Student Life Centre

Postgraduate Research Fund

Aim

To support PhD students who are struggling financially due to the effects of the pandemic.

Eligibility

Any PhD student experiencing financial difficulties – regardless of their funding source – can apply to the general Student Hardship Fund.

PhD students experiencing Covid-19 related financial difficulties – bar those with access to externally-funded scholarship extensions (e.g. UKRI) and the Sussex Scholarship Extension Scheme – can apply to the new PGR Hardship Fund. Priority will be given to PhD students in the later stages of study.

PhD students who are applying to the Sussex Scholarship Extension Scheme can subsequently apply to the general Student Hardship Fund, following the outcome of the Extension Scheme.

Applications are made via the general on-line application form  https://www.sussex.ac.uk/studentlifecentre/funding/hardship/hardshipfund/applicationadvice/

State Funding

A hardship fund grant is a stopgap, it is not designed to be an income source. A payment will hopefully help you out of a hole, but it will only help stabilise your finances and its effects are, unfortunately, all too short term.

For this reason we ask students to apply for the longer-term income streams, those which are designed to support your maintenance before applying to the hardship fund.

Part time students, single parent students and students who receive disability benefits should apply for either Universal Credit if they are not already in receipt of this or one of the legacy benefits such as Income Support etc.

Eligible English, Welsh and EU PhD students who started their course in or after September 2018 should also apply for the Student Finance Doctoral Loan. If you are concerned about this it is recommended that you read the Money Saving Expert webpage (https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/students/student-loans-tuition-fees-changes/).

 If you started your course in September of 2018 or 2019 it is too late to apply for funding for 2019/20, although you should consider applying for 2020/21. Students who started in January 2019 or January 2020 can still apply for 2019/20 funding and are strongly advised to.

Bank Statements

When you make an application, we ask for annotated bank statements. This does make it easier for the assessors to pick out items such as rent however we mainly ask for this as a budgeting exercise for you. All the assessors are trained Money Advisors and one of the exercises we do with all students is to identify where the money is going and have the student think about how necessary this expenditure is. We are generally non-judgmental about expenditure, believing it is your money to do with what you will. However, where expenditure does suggest an addiction problem (such as drink or gambling) we will offer additional support to the student if they want it.

Savings

Generally if a PhD student has savings we will want to know why. There are many reasons why we would discount savings when assessing if a PhD student is in hardship. It may be that an applicant pays rent by the term or six-monthly for instance. In this case we would ignore the savings as they are committed for future expenditure. Likewise, PhD students may need a set amount in their account when applying for a visa. If this money is going to be repaid as soon as the visa is granted we would discount the savings.

All applications are done on a case by case basis and if you give a good reason for the savings in your application we will, normally, disregard them.

Savings will be considered if money set aside for life after your course, such as a deposit for a house after your course, savings to pay for a holiday, or an ISA for your pension. The hardship fund is there to help you while you are on course, not to support you after you leave.

Award Caps

An award cap has been set at £3,500. This mirrors the cap on the general hardship fund and the national guidance given by the National Association of Student Money Advisors who produce the hardship fund guidance that Sussex, like most UK Universities, use.

We expect most awards will be significantly lower than this and this will mean we will look at multiple applications from students if they are still in hardship.

If you do have any questions about your application please email studentfunding@sussex.ac.uk and we will try to answer them.