Researchers

Specific advice for researchers at the University of Surrey. Please check back regularly for any updates and read our general advice for health information and travel guidance.

Updated Wednesday 29 April 2020

Each major funder is currently providing periodic updates, with the main message from UKRI being that (UKRI) funded doctoral students in their final year will receive an extension to their research with additional grants, known as a costed extension, of up to six months providing them with peace of mind that they will be able to complete their studies.  Please check the relevant funder links below for latest information, from which highlights/ differences have been summarised for convenience:

  • British Academy
  • CRUK
    • As the situation progresses, we are aware that clinical academics, Clinical Research Training Fellows (CRTFs) and research nurses may be seconded back to the NHS to support front line service delivery. CRUK will fully support this request; the urgent patient care comes first and you can return to clinical practice if required. The exceptions would be in those situations where there would be a duty of care for cancer patients on certain clinical trials. Such decisions must be made locally.
    • For clinical academics seconded back to the NHS, our expectation is that the NHS will cover your salary whilst working on the Covid-19 response. We’re continuing these discussions across the sector. You can also request a no-cost extension to your grant.
  • EU Commission
    • The recent escalation of restrictions related to the Covid-19 outbreak may hamper applicants' ability to prepare and finalise high-quality proposals. For this reason, for Horizon 2020 calls with original deadlines between now and 15 April, extensions will be applied. The precise new deadlines for each call and topic will be published on the call and topic pages on the Funding and Tenders Portal.
  • Innovate UK
    • We will continue to monitor the ongoing impact of coronavirus on the companies we support to ensure we can provide the best support whilst managing public money appropriately. The Government announced a package of measures including support for businesses. Find information on how it may apply to you.
  • Leverhulme Trust
  • MRC
  • NIHR
    • Q&A on the impact of Covid-19 on research funded or supported by NIHR.
  • Royal Academy of Engineering
  • Royal Society
  • Wellcome Trust
    • To help minimise the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our grantholders, Wellcome will provide the following support:
      • Costs we will supplement:
        • We will provide supplementary funding depending on the type of grant you hold. Check our list of schemes (xlsx).
      • Separate arrangements apply if:
      • We will pay the following costs if your grant is eligible for supplementary funding:
        • Salaries and stipends
      • If your grant is due to end 1 March to 31 December 2020, we will provide an additional six month's funding to pay for:
        • Your salary if you're the lead applicant and you currently receive a salary from Wellcome
        • Salaries of staff employed on your grant
        • Stipends for PhD studentships.
      • If your grant is due to end in 2021, we will provide an additional three month's funding to pay for:
        • Your salary if you're the lead applicant and you currently receive a salary from Wellcome
        • Salaries of staff employed on your grant
        • Stipends for PhD studentships.
      • If your grant is due to end in 2022 or later, we expect you to manage your existing funds to lessen the impact of the pandemic disruption. Please follow our usual policies on:
  • UKRI
    • We recognise that students may find themselves unable to complete essential tasks and/or experiments in order to be ready to submit their thesis, for example due to illness, caring responsibilities or departmental or institution closures. To avoid unnecessary pressure on students, students should continue to receive their stipends and extensions to submission dates should be awarded when needed.
    • We recognise that extensions to submission dates due to COVID-19 will be reflected in Research Organisations’ future submission data. Student health and wellbeing should be the priority during this unprecedented and uncertain time and no penalties will be applied to Research Organisations as a result of COVID-19 extensions.
    • Support for UKRI PhD students - PhD students whose studies have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic will be provided with additional support, announced Science Minister Amanda Solloway today (Thursday 9 April). The extension offer will apply to final year PhD awards that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and is in addition to the guidance already published by UKRI, including advising research organisations on how existing grants can be used to support their students.
    • For further information see the UKRI news announcement and FAQ document (PDF, 124KB).
    • You can apply to switch your existing funding to Covid-19 priority areas.

Updated Friday 3 April 2020

Each major funder is currently providing periodic updates, with the main message being application deadlines, shortlisting, interview and decision dates are changing Please check the relevant funder links below for latest information, from which highlights/ differences have been summarised for convenience:

  • British Academy
  • CRUK
    • CRUK has made the difficult decision to defer all our panels and committees. All applications submitted for the current funding round will be considered in the autumn. Where an application has been made for the renewal of an existing grant, bridge-funding will be provided.
    • We plan to open for applications to the autumn funding round as normal, but this is a rapidly developing situation and we will communicate any changes as soon as we can. 
  • MRC
    • We will do our best to keep our funding panels operational over the next few months.
  • NIHR
    • Until further notice, the NIHR Clinical Research Network is pausing the site set up of any new or ongoing studies at NHS and social care sites that are not nationally prioritised Covid-19 studies. This will enable our research workforce to focus on delivering the nationally prioritised Covid-19 studies or enabling redeployment to frontline care where necessary. These studies are enabling the clinical and epidemiological evidence to be gathered to inform national policy and will enable new treatments, diagnostics and vaccines to be developed and tested. The complete focus of the NIHR Clinical Research Network will be on delivering these highest priority Covid-19 studies. 
    • Q&A on the impact of Covid-19 on research funded or supported by NIHR.
  • Royal Society
  • Wellcome Trust
  • UKRI
    • UKRI recognises that the current situation may present additional challenges to those intending to apply. To help with that, the deadlines on all open funding opportunities will be extended to give applicants more time to submit their applications. These extensions will be managed on a case by case basis. 'No-cost' extension requests to grants impacted by coronavirus will be allowed.

      Please refer to the call guidance documentation or contact specific councils for more information. Calls already extended will be revised regularly and, if necessary, extended further. In exceptional circumstances, calls may be reopened.

      Follow this link for a list of all open and coming calls with their current deadlines and their extensions:  Calls April to May (PDF)

    • Change in flexibility for responsive mode grant start dates: UKRI acknowledges that commencing grants at this time is challenging and therefore a flexibility is being added to the current policy for responsive mode grants and fellowships. The current policy allows a start date to be delayed for up to three months of the announced start date, this is now being extended to six months.

Updated 5 June 2020

New supplementary guidance has been published by the Government for research organisations. This guidance applies to those involved in research, including other research organisations in receipt of public funding:

  • Institutions could claim support for those research staff on fixed-term contracts due to expire during the period of coronavirus disruption, where that research is unable to continue and the funder has offered a no-cost extension
  • If furloughed, the institution could extend the researcher’s contract until work on their grant can be completed
  • We recognise that research is often funded from a mixture of public and private income streams and that it may be difficult to distinguish between which stream of income directly support research and technical staff. Those staff who are supported by a mixture of commercial contracts, EU and UKRI grants – whose work has been paused are also eligible for CJRS support
  • Where research work has reduced (for example, where grant holders have requested a no-cost extension to UKRI grants) and therefore institutions have seen a reduction in payments towards staff costs for that period, resulting in a loss of income due to ceased or reduced delivery of research programmes, institutions could access CJRS for research staff providing that they meet the other criteria set by HMRC and, if they are a higher education provider, DfE’s guidance on CJRS access; however those staff costs for that furlough period may not be claimed from the public research funder
  • When research staff who are directly supported by a public grant are furloughed, institutions should notify the research funder. Further details on the notification process will be available shortly
  • Monitoring arrangements will be put in place in order to mitigate the risks of double funding of research

See main staff section for general details regarding the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough leave).

Please discuss any concerns with your Line Manager or Supervisor, or HR Manager.

Updated 5 June 2020

Wherever possible, any University staff who are paid for (in part or in whole) by an industry collaborator would be considered for furlough if they can no longer carry out their work responsibilities and the industry collaborator wishes to suspend or reduce the level of research activities.

New supplementary guidance has been published by the Government for research organisations. This guidance applies to those involved in research, including other research organisations in receipt of public funding:

  • Institutions could claim support for those research staff on fixed-term contracts due to expire during the period of coronavirus disruption, where that research is unable to continue and the funder has offered a no-cost extension
  • If furloughed, the institution could extend the researcher’s contract until work on their grant can be completed
  • We recognise that research is often funded from a mixture of public and private income streams and that it may be difficult to distinguish between which stream of income directly support research and technical staff. Those staff who are supported by a mixture of commercial contracts, EU and UKRI grants – whose work has been paused are also eligible for CJRS support
  • Where research work has reduced (for example, where grant holders have requested a no-cost extension to UKRI grants) and therefore institutions have seen a reduction in payments towards staff costs for that period, resulting in a loss of income due to ceased or reduced delivery of research programmes, institutions could access CJRS for research staff providing that they meet the other criteria set by HMRC and, if they are a higher education provider, DfE’s guidance on CJRS access; however those staff costs for that furlough period may not be claimed from the public research funder
  • When research staff who are directly supported by a public grant are furloughed, institutions should notify the research funder. Further details on the notification process will be available shortly
  • Monitoring arrangements will be put in place in order to mitigate the risks of double funding of research

See main staff section for general details regarding the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough leave).

Please discuss any concerns with your Line Manager or Supervisor, or HR Manager.

  • It is an essential criteria of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme that you do not do any work for or on behalf of the University or any subsidiary whilst you are on furlough leave. This includes writing up papers, analysing data, presenting at conferences.
  • You should not respond to work-related emails or attend team meetings where work is being discussed or tasks allocated.
  • However, your own personal training and development is encouraged, and you may wish to use the time to keep up to date with developments in your discipline, through reading or through attending research seminars in your area for interest and information.
  • You may communicate on social media about your own personal views and interests but not on behalf of the University.

In the first instance we would encourage you to discuss with your funder, and seek an extension to your research project.  Funders have been releasing guidance and many are confirming that no-cost extensions in such circumstances will be allowed. Overall we expect funders will be pragmatic when considering requests to extend projects, although some may wish consider such requests on a case-by-case basis.

See links to funder websites under the first question in this section (‘what is the funding situation regarding active projects’).

If your funder has granted a no-cost extension to your research project, seek advice from your Line Manager, Supervisor or HR Manager, regarding any staffing implications, including furlough.

Updated 5 June 2020

Throughout the current situation we have been maintaining our research environments according to local contingency plans, and whilst some facilities have been supported, most research access had been withdrawn from campus and had to be undertaken remotely where possible until further notice.

We are now in the stages of developing a managed return to campus plan. The Directors of Faculty Operations are liaising with Faculty Senior Management and Estates, Facilities & Commercial Services, to ensure that any return is enabled in a prioritised and safe manner. We will need to ensure that Health & Safety considerations have the utmost consideration alongside the research requirements.

We will communicate plans for return in due course.

With regard to funding terms, in particular where research activity might be restricted due to cancellation of conferences, meetings, workshops etc, we have been advised that there will be some flexibility of funding. View the latest advice from UKRI.

Updated Wednesday 18 March 2020

All public events are now postponed with immediate effect. This applies to events up until the end of May. Events beyond this date will be subject to ongoing review.

All internal events should also be assessed against the following criteria:

  • Is it in a confined space?
  • Does it involve a large amount of people?
  • Can it be hosted virtually?
  • Is it business critical?

Anyone organising any internal events should please exercise their common sense in applying these criteria and escalate any more complex decisions to your Head of Department.

Updated Tuesday 24 March 2020

As announced on Tuesday 24 March, REF 2021 will be postponed. The staff census date will remain as 31 July 2020. We await further details on the new submission deadline.  

Surrey’s REF team will evaluate all current plans and be working on a new plan in due course. Please bear with us as we work through this, we will need to keep REF progress moving, but this offers us the opportunity to manage the pace of that progress, and offer very welcome extensions, postponements to the current programme. 

We are still continuing with the annual output review process, but will be very flexible with our reviewers and timelines.

Please do contact REF2021@surrey.acuk if you have any specific queries. 

Updated Thursday 19 March 2020

Our research and innovation support teams are geared up to work remotely in the event of any business operations being disrupted /need for offsite working, and where possible we will continue with business as usual. Please note our teams are mostly remote-working at present. For grant applications, please do complete your intention to bid process in good time according to agreed timelines, to enable us to work with you as effectively as possible in the current working conditions.

           

Regarding Contractual Performance in connection with Industrial Sponsored Studentships and Research Contracts, the two most important legal elements concerning inability to perform contractual obligations will be Force Majeure and if a Contract does not contain a provision, then the Doctrine of Frustration, which is narrower in its operation.

University standard Research and Studentship agreements contain Force Majeure provisions. Non-standard terms will need to be checked.

We advise there should be three steps:

  1. Principal Investigators for a research project and Supervisor of the student should consider potential risks, how to mitigate and their business continuity plan;
  2. Where it is apparent that contract deliverables/student project cannot be delivered within the contract period or as envisaged in the contract, then the Principal Investigator or Supervisor should contact the Sponsor to discuss, and agree potential extensions or changes to the Project or deliverables.

Changes must be agreed in writing and details provided to Legal Contracts and Research Finance.

  1. Where it becomes apparent that it will be impossible to meet the deliverables or no agreement is reached with Sponsor, then contact should be made with Research Legal/ Legal and Secretariat to advise on and if necessary provide the notice required to invoke the Force Majeure Provisions (this is to be kept under review depending on scale of notifications).

Advice for research students and supervisors

As well as the general information for students and staff, please refer to the Doctoral College website for advice on a range of different situations relevant to your research. 

Advice for postgraduate research students

Advice for supervisors

Advice for researchers interacting with human participants

The following guidance is provided by the University in response to the circumstances arising from the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and the advice being provided by the Government and Public Health England.

It is important that researchers (to include staff, students (undergraduate and postgraduate) or visitors) make changes to their research approach to ensure the continued safety of participants and themselves as researchers. The guidance below will continue to be updated as the situation changes.

Advice for research with University Ethics Committee approval

Advice for clinical research