University of Cambridge to provide £1 million of extension funding to final-year doctoral students

Following campaigning by Cambridge SU, this funding will be provided to self-funded postgraduates whose research has been delayed by the pandemic

University of Cambridge launched a new Postgraduate Research Covid-19 Assistance Scheme (PGR CAS) on 30th June to provide extension funding for final-year doctoral students in financial hardship, totalling £1 million.

According to a press release from Cambridge SU, the scheme is available to fully or partially self-funded postgraduate research students whose research has been delayed by the pandemic. The fund will award an “enhanced hardship award” of up to £3,700, which is the equivalent of 3 months’ worth of maintenance costs.

This new fund comes after the Postgraduate Funding Survey run by Cambridge SU, surveying over 600 postgraduates, which found that 60% of self-funded doctoral students have had the completion of their course delayed by the pandemic.

Self-funded doctoral students have therefore been left with more months of expenditure that were not originally budgeted for, leaving many students at risk of needing to further delay or altogether stop their studies.

This follows a Student Council meeting in February 2021, in which participants voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion addressing doctoral students’ need for extension funding.

Siyang Wei, Cambridge SU Postgraduate Access, Education and Participation Officer, described the scheme as “a testament to the power of student voices,” commenting: “The pandemic has exposed the stark reality of the postgraduate funding crisis, and we’ve forced the University to start acknowledging their own responsibility to students in the face of this reality.”

They added: “This scheme isn’t perfect, but it’s a big step forward that we hope will go some way to alleviating the financial pressure on some of our most vulnerable research students. We welcome any feedback and will continue to lobby the University for more support for postgraduates over the summer.”

Application criteria

  • Applications for the first round of the scheme, are now open, with those adhering to the following criteria eligible for funding:
  • You are registered for a PGR course (e.g.. PhD) at the University of Cambridge
  • You are in your final year of study (i.e.. 3rd or 4th year of PhD or part-time equivalent)
  • You are currently self-funded for all or part of your course or have become self-funded if sponsorship has ended (and cannot be extended)
  • You have not already benefited from a Covid-19 related extension to your doctoral funding and are unable to secure extended funding from another source (e.g.. sponsor)
  • You are in financial need due to the impact of Covid-19 on the progress of your research
  • You have not yet submitted your soft bound thesis
  • You are eligible for the PG Hardship Fund in all respects (see below for eligibility guidance)

Applications are currently open for the first round, and the next round of applications will be open in Michaelmas Term 2021.

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Feature image credit: Matilda Head