Some good news, as of a few weeks ago, the rules for sick leave/ medical leave of absence have changed for many funded PhD students in the UK. I found out about this from a post by Emma at the University of Sheffield.

Above is where I learned about it, so I thought I’d write it up with some more information so people can check their own institutes are aware of it.

So the new UKRI policy is that student can take 13 weeks of leave per 12 months, and receive a full stipend for that time. Not only that, but this money should come from a separate uni pot, and not from the fixed training funds for the candidate. This means candidate deadlines and payment etc should be extended for as long as the leave is taken (up to 13 weeks!), giving them the same amount of time to research once they return.

For reference, the old system was that medical absence was paid from the fixed amount of candidate training money, which forcws students to have less paid research time once they returned! Which was an awful system.

This policy applies right now, and universities should be aware of it already. I emailed my research director and there are meetings happening this week so the University can follow through on this. If you can, check at your university, it’s your right, right now!

To be clear, this applies to anyone funded by a body under UKRI, that being: EPSRC, STFC, AHRC, BBSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC, Innovate UK or Research England. So if you’re differently funded (for example by the Wellcome Trust or Leverhulme Trust), check what your situation is.

The Official Documents

The official guidance is on the UKRI page here And the specifics about Training Grant Conditions and how these absences are paid for is in sections TGC 6.1.1 and TGC 8.2 of the second document listed

There are other details in the first document too, but the main take away is that this applies now to anyone funded by a body under the UKRI, so that is: EPSRC, STFC, AHRC, BBSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC, Innovate UK or Research England

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