Annex 15 - Medical absence policy for funded research students

1.    Introduction

1.1 The policy relates to the payment of stipends during periods of absence due to illness and applies to full-time and part-time research students who receive a maintenance stipend funded by the University of Bristol and/or by a UK Research Council.

1.2 Research students who are also members of staff of the University of Bristol should follow the appropriate HR Services policy for staff.

2. Student eligibility criteria for receiving stipend payments

2.1 Full-time and part-time research students who receive a maintenance stipend funded by the University of Bristol (including the UoB PG Scholarship and faculty- or school-funded students) and/or by a UK Research Council are entitled to up to 13 weeks paid medical absence at their standard stipend value from the first day of certified illness within any 12-month period.

2.2 Research students who receive an externally funded stipend from an external organisation or an external award administered through the University of Bristol must follow the regulations of the funder. If the funder does not provide additional money to fund periods of medical absence, the University is not liable to provide any payment.

2.3 Students in receipt of awards covering tuition fees only are not eligible to receive any payment during periods of sickness.

2.4 Funding to cover periods of medical absence will not be provided to students during unfunded periods of study.

2.5 Part-time or part-funded students should expect to receive any payments to which they are entitled on a pro-rata basis.

3. Certification of medical absence

3.1 Research students who wish to continue to receive their stipend payment during a period of medical absence must provide the University with appropriate medical certification. 

4. Suspension or extension of study due to medical absence

4.1 Information on suspensions, extensions and changes to mode of attendance is held in Section 6.4 of the Regulations and Code of Practice for Research Degree Programmes

4.2 In cases of illness of a long duration, the school or faculty, in liaison with Disability Services, may wish to consider whether the student’s withdrawal from the programme and possible reapplication at a future date would be a more appropriate measure.

5. Students with UKVI student visa (formally known as Tier 4)

5.1 In the case of students sponsored by the University under UKVI student visa (formally known as Tier 4), suspension of studies may require the University to withdraw sponsorship and for the student to return to their home country for the duration of the suspension. In such cases, students will thereafter need to apply to the University for a new CAS number to apply for a new visa to resume their studies.

5.2 All requests for suspension of studies must be made at the earliest opportunity to permit time for approval of the request and to ensure travel home can be made following the report of the suspension to the UKVI. 

5.3 In all cases, advice should be sought from the International Student Visa Advice and Compliance Team as early as possible to ensure compliance with the studnet visa (formally known as Tier 4) can be maintained.

6. Returning to study after periods of medical absence

6.1 Students must keep their supervisor and appropriate school or faculty informed of any changes in their circumstances that may result in them returning to their studies earlier or later than originally stated.  Students who have suspended their studies and want to return to their studies later than originally stated must apply for an extension to their suspension and provide a new medical certificate.

6.2 Occupational Health and/or the Disability Support Office should be consulted if additional support is required for students returning from long-term medical absence.  The University’s Support to Study Policy may also be consulted.