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Learned societies restrict activities as a result of Covid-19

Image: British Academy [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Offices close but funding programmes and calls remain open for applications, societies say

Some of the UK’s top learned societies have partially suspended activities as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but insist their funding programmes will continue as normal.

The decisions to suspend some activities and close down buildings comes after the prime minister told everyone in the UK to avoid “non-essential” travel and contact with others to curb the virus.

The Academy of Medical Sciences has said it is “severely limiting” activities at its headquarters in central London, with all events and meetings postponed or cancelled for “the foreseeable future”.

Where possible, it said it would move smaller events and meetings online, with staff working remotely to provide support to fellows, grant awardees and programme participants.

“We will maintain support to our grant awardees and our programme of grant funding will continue to run, although timings may change,” it said in a statement issued on 17 March. “We will update our grants webpages with information as and when it is available.”

Meanwhile, the British Academy has closed its London headquarters with staff working remotely and contactable by email or by phone.

Deadlines for the academy’s currently open calls, including Newton International Fellowships and the Jordan-UK El Hassan bin Talal Research Chair in Sustainability, will remain in place, it said and invited researchers to submit applications as normal.

“We encourage award-holders to investigate, where necessary, all possible alternative ways of continuing to progress their research,” it said. “However, we understand that the outbreak may impact on the activities associated with some awards and will treat all requests for no-cost extensions to awards and requests for virement of funding between cost headings sympathetically.”

The Royal Society has also decided to close its buildings, including to fellows, staff, and visitors. However, the society insisted that business would continue with staff working remotely.

It added that all funding programmes and calls would remain open for applications with some grant committee and panel meetings set to take place remotely.