NC3Rs Studentship Scheme: Notes and FAQs

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1 NC3Rs Studentship Scheme: Notes and FAQs 1. Competition overview The aim of the NC3Rs studentship scheme is to embed the 3Rs in the training of early career scientists from a broad range of research backgrounds. The NC3Rs invites applications that will attract and inspire the UK s top graduates, and provide excellent scientific training as well as a solid introduction to the 3Rs. Applications are invited from UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), Research Council Institutes and Independent Research Organisations (IROs, as described on the Research Councils UK website). The Research Organisation (RO, defined as a UK HEI, IRO or RC Institute) will be responsible for finding students and the administration of each studentship during the award. Key considerations of the scheme include: The same or similar application cannot be considered by any other Research Council, the Health Departments or any other research funder at the same time. Applications are welcomed from leading UK researchers with a minimum of five year s postdoctoral experience. Industrial organisations may partner or collaborate on applications but are not eligible to be primary applicants. Overseas organisations may only be included as collaborators. The proposals must be of excellent scientific quality with a measurable impact on the 3Rs. A proposal may integrate two disciplines or departments. In doing so ROs should ensure that the training content remains coherent across its breadth and remains focused on delivering a specific set of research skills. A total of up to 15 awards for three year PhDs (including up to three co-funded BHF-NC3Rs awards) will be made available in each annual competition. Awards are made as cash limited Studentships of 30k per annum ( 90k in total over three years) that are paid directly to the RO over the course of the award. A studentship can be activated as soon as an award letter has been issued. All awards should start at the beginning of the next academic year at the latest. 2. Stipend Please note that NC3Rs Studentships are administered by the host institution; this means the institution is responsible for deciding the financial details of each award. Studentship stipends are set by the host institution; however, a minimum stipend for all Studentships must be met and should be at the current RCUK level. Year Outside London Inside London 2018/19 14,777 16,777 1

2 Examples of the flexibility that a Research Organisation can employ are: Increasing the student stipend above the NC3Rs set minimum; Spending according to project need on research consumables, travel etc.; Providing support for professional development courses for the student etc. 3. Disabled Students Allowance If a student incurs additional expenditure in connection with their postgraduate training because they are disabled, they may be eligible for a Disabled Students Allowance. To find out how to apply for Disabled Students Allowance, please contact the university s disability officer or access centre. 4. Student eligibility The NC3Rs does not provide funding to students directly. If you are a student looking for funding for a Studentship please contact the relevant Research Organisation. Please do not contact the NC3Rs directly to enquire about student eligibility; it is the responsibility of the university s registrar office to contact NC3Rs if advice on eligibility is required. 5. Academic qualifications Candidates for Studentships must hold qualifications at the level of, or equivalent to, at least an Upper Second Class honours degree from a UK academic institution, in a subject relevant to NC3Rs' scientific remit. Qualifications, or a combination of qualifications and experience, which demonstrate equivalent ability and attainment would also be considered. 6. Writing up and submission The expected duration of the PhD project and funding should be agreed with the student at the outset. The project should be designed and managed to allow for the writing up of the research within the scope of the project itself. The NC3Rs expects submission no later than six months from funding end date. 7. Residence eligibility The NC3Rs abides by the RCUK criteria on residence eligibility. To be eligible for a full NC3Rs Studentship (stipend and university fees), candidates must be: A UK national who can demonstrate a relevant connection (I) to the UK; An individual who was not born in the UK but has been granted UK citizenship or has come to settle in the UK (for example immigrant status, refugee or an individual granted humanitarian protection) and can demonstrate that they have a relevant connection through ordinary residence (II); A European Economic Area (EEA) (III) citizen who is a migrant worker (IV) (or their spouse or children) and can demonstrate ordinary residence in the EEA; An EU national who has spent the three years prior to application resident in the UK (this can include residence whilst undertaking undergraduate study). I. A relevant connection can be established if an individual has been ordinarily resident in the UK throughout the three years preceding the date of application. Candidates may be classed as demonstrating ordinary residence when they are temporarily absent overseas (see below) where the nature of their profession 2

3 demands that they spend periods overseas (for example research) or have been receiving full-time education overseas. II. III. IV. Lord Scarman defined ordinary residence as habitual and normal from choice and for a settled purpose throughout the prescribed period, apart from temporary or occasional absence voluntarily adopted.. there must be some degree of settled purpose (and) a sufficient degree of continuity to be properly described as settled. Ordinary residence is proven if a candidate would have been in the UK (or EEA) if it were not for the fact that s/he, his/her spouse, parent or guardian is/was temporarily employed outside of the area. The EEA is defined as the areas comprised by the member states of the European Union (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden) as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. An EEA migrant worker can be defined (for these purposes) as a citizen of a member state of the EEA who is employed in the UK and who should be treated as a national of the UK. The employment of an EEA migrant worker can be full-time or part-time but must be relevant to the candidate s previous or future training. Candidate s employed in part-time or short-term casual employment or who are effectively unemployed cannot be considered to hold migrant worker status. V. RCUK relaxed the residency eligibility policy in 2011, in order to allow the host institute to recruit overseas students in areas of scarce strategic skills. Institutes looking to appoint an overseas student on to an NC3Rs studentship must contact the Office prior to doing so in order to seek approval. The host institute must demonstrate that there is a skills shortage in the UK for the type of candidate required. In such cases, NC3Rs studentship funds can be used to pay the student stipend and fees. 8. Visa/Work permits It is the responsibility of the host organisation and student to obtain the necessary visa / work permit if required. 9. Nationals of the European Union If a student is from an EU country, but cannot demonstrate a relevant connection to the UK through ordinary residence, they may be eligible for a Studentship for tuition fees, but not for a maintenance stipend. 10. Nationals of the Isle of Man Candidates from the Isle of Man will be considered an overseas applicant and therefore must meet the criteria described above. Please do not contact the NC3Rs directly to enquire about eligibility; it is the responsibility of the university s registrar office to contact NC3Rs if advice on eligibility is required. 3

4 NC3Rs Studentship Scheme - Frequently Asked Questions Q: Can the NC3Rs fund my PhD project? A: The NC3Rs does not fund students on an individual basis. Instead we fund Research Organisations directly, who then allocate the funding to students as they see fit. Q: How does the NC3Rs expect the organisation to allocate funds? A: Students receiving a stipend must be paid at least the minimum recommended amount (see section 2 above). As long as this minimum is met, the Research Organisation can allocate the rest of the funds according to the requirements of the project. Examples of the flexibility that a Research Organisation can employ are: Increasing the student stipend above the RCUK-set minimum; Spending according to project need on research consumables, travel etc.; Q: Who is responsible for the confirmation of awards to students? A: The Research Organisation is responsible for the selection and confirmation of awards to students, according to NC3Rs-set stipulations regarding eligibility and minimum stipend levels. Q: What can the Studentship be used to fund? A: The 30k fund may be used to cover student stipends, fees, project costs and the incidental costs of research training, such as travel and conference attendance. The amounts for each of these headings are decided upon by the individual Research Organisation and not by the NC3Rs. Students may be full or part-time. The Research Organisation may decide on the period of support for individuals. Where a student is eligible for a stipend, the stipend awarded must be at least equal to the minimum rates for the relevant academic year. The Research Organisation may, if it wishes, pay a higher level of stipend, provided that it does not overspend the value of the grant. The allocation of funds for the incidental costs of research training should have regard for the nature and complexity of projects and the need for fieldwork, conferences, broadening training and industrial placements. Individual organisations determine their own policy on how these funds are allocated to students. Q: Can we use an element of the award to cover additional administrative costs incurred in managing the students? A: No. Topslicing to make provision for the additional costs which may be incurred in staff time administering the awards is not an appropriate use of NC3Rs funding. Q: Who decides on the eligibility of students to receive a stipend? A: The use of funding to provide full awards or fees-only awards should be in accordance with student eligibility as determined by the Education (Fees and Awards) Regulations 1997 and subsequent amendments. An equivalent set of regulations exists for Scotland. Decisions on a particular student s eligibility should be made by the Research Organisation s registry. When necessary, further guidance may be sought from the NC3Rs. Q: Are EU students eligible for this funding? A: Yes, students with a relevant connection to an EU country other than the UK are eligible for fees only awards. No stipend is payable. 4

5 An EU national with a relevant connection to the UK may be eligible to receive a stipend. A relevant connection can be established if an individual has been ordinarily resident in the UK throughout the three years preceding the date of application. Whilst the onus to determine the eligibility of a student is on the Research Organisation, the NC3Rs may be consulted in more difficult cases. Q: Are non-eu students eligible for funding? A: Yes but only under specific circumstances. RCUK relaxed the residency eligibility policy in 2011, in order to allow the host institute to recruit overseas students in areas of scarce strategic skills. Institutes looking to appoint an overseas student to an NC3Rs studentship must contact the Office prior to doing so in order to seek approval. The host institute must demonstrate that there is a skills shortage in the UK for the type of candidate required. In such cases, NC3Rs studentship funds can be used to pay the student stipend and fees. Q: Can we fund a student who wants to start before the next full academic year commences? A: Yes. The NC3Rs policy allows students to start as soon as the award is finalised. The award can be activated any time after the award letter is sent. However, the student must be in place by the start of the next academic year (1 October) at the latest. Q: Can part-time students be supported A: Part-time Studentships from those who wish to combine their research training with work or domestic responsibilities should be encouraged. It is expected that the period of study will reflect the percentage of time spent pursuing doctoral studies; for example, if a typical full-time duration is three years, a part-time student might expect support for up to six years. Part-time Studentships should usually be awarded for no less than 50 per cent of full-time, and on the understanding that the approved programme of research training can be carried out effectively. Part-time arrangements may be particularly suitable for those returning from a career break or who have domestic responsibilities that preclude full-time training. For part time Studentships the award will be paid to the Research Organisation as for a standard Studentship: quarterly in arrears for the duration of a three year term. It is the responsibility of the Research Organisation to manage these funds over the extended period of a part-time Studentship. Q: How much do we have to pay students? A: Students receiving a stipend must be paid at least the minimum research council recommended amount. Maximum stipend levels, should you wish to pay more, must be agreed with your local tax office. It is not permissible to award a fees only Studentship to a student who is eligible to receive a stipend. Q: How can students claim Disabled Student's Allowance (DSA)? A: Disabled students who, because of their disability, are obliged to incur additional expenditure in connection with their postgraduate training, may be eligible for a Disabled Student s Allowance (DSA). Students should contact the Research Organisation's Disability Support Officer (DSO) to discuss and agree their needs before applying to the NC3Rs. The DSO may recommend that the student undertakes a needs assessment at a recognised access centre. The assessment, along with the recommendations for support required and exact quotes for all costs, should be submitted to the NC3Rs by the DSO. The NC3Rs will then determine what contribution it is prepared to make. 5

6 The DSA will be paid to the institution as a supplement. Q: Can we replace students who leave early? A: Yes, if you have sufficient funds to support a replacement award. The Research Organisation must make suitable arrangements for coping with absences of students for illness, maternity, paternity and holidays. The Research Organisation must ensure that it is aware of unauthorised absences by students, so that future payments may be stopped and (where necessary) those already made in advance can be recovered. The period of a student s support may be extended at the Research Organisation s discretion and (with NC3Rs approval) to offset a period of genuine absence, subject to finding the necessary funding from within the Research Organisation. For more detailed queries please contact the NC3Rs at: 6

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