Post Graduate Research (PGR) Studentship Awards Financial Terms and Conditions
The following Terms and Conditions apply to all University-administered (including Research Council) Postgraduate Research awards. In the case of externally-funded awards, the rules of the Funding Agency e.g. Research Council, take precedence over those of the University; therefore, in the event of any conflict between these Terms and Conditions and those of the Funding Agency, the latter shall prevail. Students in receipt of an externally-funded award should also familiarise themselves with the Funding Agency’s terms and conditions.
- Full-time postgraduate research students on a University-administered studentship are not nor deemed to be employed by the University and payments to the student are in the form of a “stipend”. The stipend is not considered taxable income by HMRC, and stipend recipients are eligible for Council Tax exemption certification. Therefore statutory employment laws do not apply.
- It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that their registration process is complete well in advance of any due stipend payments, as these will only be paid to students who are fully registered with the University.
- Student registration is required annually and takes place through the on-line enrolment process. Fully registered means that the registration status for the appropriate academic year within the Student Information System (Banner) is classed as “RE”. The “RE” status has to be maintained in order to retain entitlement to the stipend, and the “RE” status has to be in effect at the date of each stipend payment, in order for the stipend payment to be processed. Students should also be aware that there is a lag between achieving “RE” status and the ability of the University to transfer funds to a UK bank account, and so students are responsible for enrolling in a timely manner.
- The University’s payment method for stipends is in GBP (UK Pounds Sterling) via BACS (Bank Automated Clearing System) into a UK-based bank account. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that up-to-date bank account details are held by the University, and that any changes in account details are advised at least one month in advance of any due stipend payment, as BACS payments are set-up in advance of the payment date. From authorisation of a BACS payment being submitted to the University’s Finance Department to the funds being transferred to the recipient account can take up to ten working days.
- As enrolment for first year postgraduate students, by necessity, generally takes place closer to the start of the academic year, students should be aware that it may not be possible to achieve “RE” status, and for BACS instructions to be issued and processed, prior to the student’s start date. Students should, therefore, be aware of the possibility of a short delay and ensure they have sufficient funds to cover this period. On-line enrolment for students commencing their second (or later) year of study is available well in advance (up to 3 months) of the start of the new academic year and students are encouraged to enrol early to ensure stipend payments continue uninterrupted.
- Stipend Payments are made quarterly, in advance by the beginning of October, January, April and July respectively. It is possible that, if a student registration state changes from “RE” during that quarter, a stipend “overpayment” may occur, for example, as the result of an approved suspension of studies. In the event of overpayment, these monies will be due for repayment to the University. Repayment may be in the form of invoicing of the overpaid sum, or where practical, via means of withholding, or adjusting the value of, a future payment. Any withholding or adjustment will be notified in writing to the student by the University.
- It is the responsibility of the student to understand which circumstances may lead to a student registration status other than “RE”. Common examples include:
i) A student on continuation (registration status "CO"). Continuation is the period after supervised study, commonly called writing-up. Stipend payments are not paid to students on continuation.
ii) A student who submits early, during their period of supervised study. Once a thesis is submitted, a student is no-longer a "registered student" (RE), but a student "under examination" (UE). Stipend payments are not paid to students under exam.
- If a student is prevented from studying by illness for a continuous period of more than two (2) weeks, he/she must inform his/her supervisor immediately and provide a medical certificate. This information MUST be passed on to the Student Immigration and Financial Support Office (SIFSO) immediately who can advise on what the best next steps are having due regard where applicable to the terms and conditions of the particular external funding council.
Where for example in the case of a period of ill health preventing study of longer than two (2) weeks, a concession may have to be raised, or a suspension of studies sought, which may in-turn affect eligibility for stipend payments. Students should be aware that not all Research Councils will allow a retrospective break from funded study or extension of submission date.
- For students funded by the “Durham Doctoral Scholarship” (DDS) scheme, the University, upon approval of a concession request for parenting leave shall allow:
i) Maternity leave of up to six (6) months paid leave, and up to an additional (six) 6 months unpaid leave
ii) Paternity leave of up to ten (10) days paid leave
iii) Additional Paternity leave of up to six (6) months paid leave, and an additional six (6) months unpaid leave, where the child’s mother has elected to not take up maternity leave, and is not in receipt of such leave, and subject to written confirmation from the student (child’s father), that this is the case.
iv) Adoption leave of up to six (6) months paid leave, and up to an additional six (6) months unpaid leave, where the student will be the primary carer.
While Research Councils legally do not have to cover parenting leave (ie maternity/paternity/adoptive leave), they are encouraged to do so, and their terms and conditions generally support such leave. Because the parenting leave support available is currently variable between Research Councils and/or variable depending on the grant that funding is from, students funded by Research Councils wishing to request a break in studies to cover a period of parenting leave should first seek advice from the Student and Immigration Financial Support Office (SIFSO), as soon as possible, before submitting a concession request, so that they can be guided according to their specific circumstances and the rules applicable to their grant.
The University has the discretion to recover from a student, on a sliding scale, any stipend payments made to the student during parenting leave should the student not return to their studies, or leave within three months from the end of the period of suspension.
- Annual leave allowance of up to thirty (30) days per calendar year is permitted, which shall include an allowance of twelve (12) days that is the equivalent of eight (8) national public holidays, and four (4) university customary days. Leave shall be agreed in advance with your supervisor, and may include taking the public holiday/customary days allowance on alternative dates if required.
Students are reminded that they should take any pro rata annual leave entitlement before submitting their thesis as once a student has submitted their thesis they are deemed to be under examination” (UE) when all rights to annual leave will cease and any stipend already received for the period after submission of the thesis will need to be repaid.
Students requiring a Tier 4 visa to attend Durham University should be aware of the current immigration rules when using annual leave allowance, especially Tier 4 students wishing to take annual leave of greater than twenty eight (28) calendar days, e.g. approximately twenty (20) days of annual leave. Such students must seek visa advice from email@example.com before submitting a request to their supervisor, even if the annual leave is to be taken within the United Kingdom. Similarly Tier 4 students considering an absence from the United Kingdom for a period greater than twenty eight (28) calendar days, for any reason (even if the absence is due to a combination of study and annual leave) must seek advice from firstname.lastname@example.org before commencing/booking such a trip. Failure to seek advice may result in the student’s visa being revoked.
- All other concessions for a break in studies will result in the loss of the “RE” student status and a suspension (or repayment claim) of the stipend payment.
- Students who wish to supplement their studentships with part-time work must follow the student working hour recommendations issued by the "Student Employment Service" which is part of the University's "Careers Employment and Enterprise Centre" (CEEC) www.dur.ac.uk/ses/students/vacancies. Students must also be mindful not to compromise their ability to study by undertaking part-time work.
- The above terms and conditions will be available on the Durham University website (www.dur.ac.uk/graduate.school/finance/awardholders/pgr_terms_and_conditions), and shall supersede all previous versions, and be the version applicable to all current Postgraduate Research Awards
Approved by the Dean of Postgraduate and Undergraduate Education
This version – 18th March 2015
 The SIFSO postgraduate support team can be contacted on 0191 334 6238/0191 334 6485 or email@example.com