UKRI fails to provide reassurance to PhD students

13th Nov 2020

The British Neuroscience Association (BNA) is today expressing its concern about the recent announcement from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) describing only limited support for PhD students impacted by COVID-19, in which UKRI strongly advised "all funded students to speak to their supervisors about adjusting projects to complete their PhDs within their funded period."

During the initial lockdown, the BNA wrote to all neuroscience funders – including individual UKRI funders – requesting costed extensions for affected grants, including studentships.

We are now urging UKRI to reconsider the implications that this announcement will have both on neuroscience PhDs and on neuroscience as a whole.

Anne Cooke, BNA Chief Executive, said: "This announcement is very disappointing. We have heard from many neuroscientists about their concerns over the impacts COVID-19 on their research and their careers – nearly a third surveyed by the BNA in May said they were considering leaving neuroscience research as a direct result of COVID-19.

"Our letter to the Science Minister conveying these concerns was met with reassurances outlining measures her department are taking to mitigate the impact of Coronavirus, including through UKRI funding.

"Today’s neuroscience PhDs are tomorrow’s research leaders. We are very concerned not only about the impact on individuals, but about the impact that this decision will have on the future of the field. This announcement by UKRI appears to be abandoning the researchers who need support the most.  

"Rushing research projects to fit the funded time available may also seriously jeopardise the credibility and validity of research undertaken, meaning money is not saved but in fact wasted."

If you have been affected by this, we would be very interested to hear from you so we can better represent the neuroscience community: please contact the BNA here

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