Dear Doctoral Student,
The last few weeks have brought unprecedented changes to the world and to our University. For doctoral students in their final year of registration, such as yourself, I appreciate that this may have impacted on your work and, in turn, created stress and uncertainty. We have introduced a weekly rest day for staff during the lockdown period and I would encourage you to also take advantage of this, as needed. Despite these difficult times I encourage you, where possible, to continue to work closely with your supervisor and research group using email and videoconferencing, and where possible to continue to progress towards completing your doctorate. You may also find it useful to access the additional resources we have provided to support our Doctoral Community at this difficult time, which include:
- the introduction of a dedicated Strathclyde Doctoral School MyPlace site to provide a one-stop shop for all communications and advice
- the introduction of weekly Strathclyde Doctoral School (SDS) Virtual Meetups. I personally enjoyed speaking with the more than 230 Doctoral Researchers who joined the Meet Up session on Tuesday 28 April and I look forward to joining future Meet Ups
- access to a Covid-19 hardship fund
- access to our working from home hub
- a dedicated set of PGR communications and FAQs
- access to a range of resources and activities provided by our Disability and Well Being Service, including daily Zoom drop-ins and one-to-one sessions
You may be aware that UKRI has announced the possibility of additional stipend support for the final year doctoral students that it funds, and, specifically, to those students whose normal registration period ends between 1 March 2020 and 31 March 2021. Based on the typical 50% UKRI funding of these students, for most of our UKRI-funded doctoral students this extra support will, in practice, mean the possibility of up to three months extra stipend. As extra support must be justified on a case-by-case basis to UKRI, we have already written to supervisors, with funding end dates within the stipulated date window, to collect the data needed to justify extra support to UKRI. If you believe that you are funded from an UKRI source (eg EPSRC), please contact your supervisors to establish whether this possible UKRI support is relevant to you, and to input to the internal submission process via your supervisor, as appropriate.
For other final year students whose registration finishes between 1 March 2020 and 31 March 2021, we have decided to introduce a similar scheme funded by the University. Once again, this will be on a case-by-case basis, as every student will face different circumstances. We have written to all supervisors outlining the support that is available and the light-touch process we will use to take decisions on a case-by-case basis. Your supervisor will be able to provide you with this information.
I appreciate that this message will only answer some of your questions. I encourage you to check the FAQs for postgraduate research students, which is regularly updated, to attend the weekly Strathclyde Doctoral School (SDS) Meet Ups, during which colleagues are always on hand to answer your questions, and to regularly engage with the SDS MyPlace site which also provides a forum for asking questions and sharing information and advice.
Finally, I would like to encourage you to progress those aspects of your research that you are able to at this time, potentially through completing writing tasks or using video conferencing facilities to engage with current or future collaborators. Also, once again, stay closely in touch with your supervisor(s) and your other research colleagues, and the very best wishes as you move on through this final phase of your doctoral research studies.
Sir Jim McDonald