Guidance for applicants, students and award-holders impacted by the pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic means there have been changes to funding deadlines, extensions and support.

Changes to deadlines and extensions

If you’re applying for funding, see the relevant funding opportunity page for information about deadlines, extensions, and any other changes.

Search funding opportunities.

If you already have a research or fellowship grant, you can request a ‘no-cost’ extension.

Extensions for fellowships and standard grants

You now have six months to start your project, instead of three, if you’ve been awarded a fellowship or standard grant.

All grant letters for new UKRI standard grant opportunities will provide six months to start.

Extensions for strategic and managed mode grants

You can make a request for an extension for a strategic or managed mode grant through Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S) via a Grant Maintenance Request (GMR).

Each request will be considered individually by your funder.

Submit your Grant Maintenance Request.

COVID-19 grant extension allocation

UKRI is distributing funding of up to £180 million to support research and technical staff whose projects have been disrupted. Universities and organisations are receiving COVID-19 allocations.

See further details about the COVID-19 grant extension allocation policy (PDF, 128KB).

Information for organisations managing the allocation

Support for businesses

There are support packages available for businesses during the pandemic, from Innovate UK.

These include continuity grants and loans, and support to help innovative, high-growth small and medium enterprises to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Visit Innovate UK for full details of business support.

Support for students

Extension funding

We updated our funding policy on 24 March 2021. New eligibility rules apply.

If you are finding it difficult to adapt your project, you may be eligible for more UKRI funding.

You must apply for this funding through your research organisation. Contact your research organisation to find out how.

To apply, you must be:

  • a UKRI-funded student
  • unable to adapt your project to finish in your existing funding period.

If you’ve previously applied for an extension, but are still struggling to adapt your project, you can reapply. You will only be granted an extension if exceptional circumstances apply, for example due to caring responsibilities.

Length of extension

We expect most extensions to be up to three months long. They should only be longer in exceptional circumstances. You must be able to justify why you need the length of time you request.

About our funding policy

We updated our policy on support for doctoral students on 24 March 2021.

Find out more about the funding available in the:

Find out how UKRI set this funding policy.

Sick leave

We are asking research organisations to treat sick leave caused by the pandemic differently to our normal sick leave policy.

This means:

  • you may not need a medical certificate to prove sickness caused by the pandemic
  • sick leave extensions can be for up to 28 weeks in length in a 12-month period, rather than the normal 13 weeks.

Find out more in the ‘student health and well-being’ section of our guidance for doctoral students supported by UKRI (PDF, 164KB).

Non-pandemic related sickness

Our normal sick leave policy applies for sick leave not caused by the pandemic. This is up to 13 weeks within a 12-month period.

Shielding

If you are shielding and are not able to work from home, you can use your shielding letter to claim sick pay.

You can only claim sick leave for the period specified in your letter.

We consider sick leave for shielding separately to other sick leave. This means time off for shielding does not come out of your normal sick leave allowance.

Change in mode of study

If the pandemic has caused a change in personal or household circumstances, you can change your mode of study.

Changing your mode of study could mean switching from full time to part time, or part time to full time.

You can change your mode of study because of the pandemic more than once. This means you have flexibility if your circumstances change again.

Before you change

There are other options available to help you adapt.

Before you switch, first consider:

  • getting support to adjust your project
  • applying for our doctoral extension funding.

Find out more in the ‘part-time students’ section of our guidance for doctoral students supported by UKRI (PDF, 164KB).

Redeployment

If you are supporting the government response to COVID-19, UKRI will agree to an extension.

Examples of this include:

  • returning to clinical service
  • working in an NHS Test and Trace laboratory.

Find out more in the guidance for doctoral students supported by UKRI (PDF, 164KB).

More guidance

Read more in our guidance for doctoral students supported by UKRI (PDF, 164KB).

This includes guidance on:

  • events, activities and placements
  • co-funding
  • additional costs.

SURE Fund support for higher education providers

The UK’s world-class research and researchers play a vital role in delivering local and national economic prosperity, but we recognise that some of that research is at risk from a range of income losses as a result of impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

On 27 June 2020, the UK government announced a significant investment targeted towards sustaining research and innovation activity and capacity in higher education providers (HEPs) across the UK.

This included the Sustaining University Research Expertise (SURE) Fund, a financial package intended to support the sustainability of UK research capacity. It consists of a mixture of low-interest loans with long pay-back periods, and government grants.

On 6 November 2020, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) published further details about the SURE Fund.

BEIS will administer the loan element of the SURE Fund. UKRI, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the Scottish Funding Council and the Department for the Economy (Northern Ireland) will administer the grant element of the SURE fund.

How to apply

The SURE Fund portal is now open for expressions of interest (EOI) from eligible HEPs. We do not expect HEPs to submit an EOI if they have returned an increase in international student fee income between academic years 2018 to 2019 and 2020 to 2021.

To begin the application process, HEPs must register on the SURE Fund application portal.

HEPs interested in applying for SURE support are required to submit an EOI before making an application.

To apply, access the SURE Fund application portal. A unique registration code and guidance has been sent to heads of institutions.

Information and guidance on the SURE Fund and application process is now available.

Download the guidance: SURE Fund guidance for higher education providers (PDF, 419KB)

Timeline

  • EOI process opens: 16 November 2020
  • EOI process closes: 23 November 2020, 17:00
  • webinar to support HEPs completing a full application: 25 November 2020, 11:30 to 13:15 (further details will be provided to those returning a positive EOI)
  • full application closes: noon, 18 December 2020.

Information regarding maximum allocations available to individual HEPs will be made available shortly after a positive EOI is submitted.

Following the submission of a positive EOI, a HEP will be able to complete a full application to the SURE fund portal.

Contact

If you have any questions about the SURE Fund, email SUREFund@ukri.org

International travel

Researchers, innovators and partners who are working internationally, or who need to travel, should follow the guidance from the relevant national and regional governments.

You should switch to ‘virtual’ remote working, if possible.

If you can’t travel due to official government advice, this cost can be charged to the grant. If the cost can’t be absorbed by an overall underspend on the grant, UKRI will cover a small addition.

Ethical research and responsible innovation

UKRI remains committed to supporting ethical research and responsible innovation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

See our COVID-19 ethics guidance for more information.

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