Go back

Grant extension requests start flooding in to UK funders

Research funders are receiving large numbers of queries from their grantees

As impacts of the Covid-19 lockdown spread through the academic community, some of the major funders of research in the UK are seeing an uptick in queries about no-cost grant extensions.

A spokesperson for the largest public funder of research in the country, UK Research and Innovation, said it has “seen some upturn in the number of no-cost extensions” but added that it is working “to understand the full impacts of Covid-19 across our grants programme and the research landscape, including the number of grants and grant recipients affected”.

“Many researchers will still be working through the impact and whether they need an extension,” the spokesperson said. “For those whose grants are not ending imminently it may be more appropriate to assess the impact, and make any application, at a later date.”

The Wellcome Trust biomedical charitable foundation, meanwhile, is providing automatic supplements and time extensions for grants due to end in 2020 and 2021.

“We know the current situation is causing uncertainty and we want to support our grantholders through this challenging period,” said Alyson Fox, Wellcome’s director of grants. “We’re offering extensions and supplements on many of our grants to keep people employed and ensure their research is not too affected by the pandemic.”

More than 1,000 of Wellcome’s active grants meet the criteria for supplements, a spokesperson said.

“We received several queries about no-cost extensions before we announced this support, and continue to receive some from grantholders whose grants end in 2022 or later,” they said. “However, the number of queries will be much lower because of this new policy.”

Some learned societies, too, are seeing queries on grant extensions.

“We have logged 113 queries about no-cost extensions and 33 requests have been granted so far,” a Royal Society spokesperson told Research Professional News. “For context, about 1,600 researchers are funded by the Royal Society.”

The British Academy has received at least 127 formal requests for no-cost extensions so far. “Many requests are arising from the need to postpone travel and fieldwork or archival research,” a spokesperson said.