Workflow for project approval and commencement
1. KESS 2 project proposals submitted to KESS 2 call.
2. KESS 2 project proposals approved by internal panel and sent to WEFO for their approval.
3. All parties involved in approved projects informed of approval and next steps.
4. Company credit checks are conducted, and company contracts issued accordingly (before appointment of PGR in step 6).
5. KESS 2 office updates database of studentships for admissions.
6. Selection of the KESS 2 PG Researcher by the academic school:
a. Named candidate (go straight to step 7)
b. Scholarship advertised, shortlisting (in tandem with initial eligibility checks), interviews and appointment to academic programme by the school (KESS 2 funding not yet awarded; company contract must be in place).
7. KESS 2 team conduct eligibility checks and award KESS 2 funding once eligibility confirmed. Spreadsheet updated.
8. Appointed candidate applies to BU via Direct Applications system; Admissions are informed that KESS 2 funding is in place; offer is made only when the company contract is in place.
9. If conditional offer, candidate contacts KESS 2 office and admissions when conditions met.
10. Candidate accepts offer via online DA system.
11. Registration confirmed.
12. Candidate signs KESS 2 student contract which triggers stipend payments (on receipt of a validated timesheet).
1. Completion of timesheets
- KESS 2 funded PGRs have to submit a detailed hard-copy timesheet every month that has to be signed/approved by their supervisor. This procedure is time consuming and it was asked if the process could be streamlined. There followed a discussion and the following was noted:
- In response to the request to whether the timesheets could be done online, it was noted that PGRs do not have access to log in to Agresso, which is the system used by staff. Agresso is linked to HR and payroll reports; therefore, as staff use the system, it is not possible for KESS 2 funded PGRs to use this procedure.
- The KESS 2 Wales Manager has had regular discussions with the KESS 2 funders to attempt agreement for online timesheet submission. Our funders will not agree to this currently.
- It is an EU requirement that hard copies of timesheets, with original signatures, are submitted. These are frequently checked during audits.
- A submission box on the Ocean Sciences Site, where PGRs can submit their timesheets which are then collected by the Doctoral School, was welcomed and is now operational.
- Information is available in the ‘downloads’ / ‘information sheets’ section of the KESS 2 website on the amount of detail required on the timesheets. Examples and guidelines can be found here: http://kess2.ac.uk/downloads/
2. Procurement guidelines
All BU staff and postgraduates must adhere to the BU Procurement procedures, this is not exclusive to KESS 2 participants / supervisors. We all recognize that it is time consuming and complex.
We have offered training to all KESS 2 participants, supervisors, and to finance managers involved in KESS 2. This training was rolled out in July 2017. The slides from this were posted onto the KESS 2 website, and can be sourced here: http://kess2.ac.uk/downloads/ in the ‘Induction’ section within ‘Downloads’. I note that BU Finance have only provided training for staff.
Admin hubs can advise re procurement and purchasing.
If participants have any doubts we would advise them to consult the BU Procurement Team direct:
|Nicola Day||Director of Procurementemail@example.com|
|Llyr Williams||Procurement Managerfirstname.lastname@example.org|
Llyr and Nicola are extremely helpful and quick to respond.
3. Policy for sick leave
The request was made that the KESS 2 contracts team make it clear the amount of time a PGR can take off sick with a medical note. The current wording of the contract was deemed vague and could lead to misinterpretation, it also differs from the University’s HR policy and other PGR funded contracts.
KESS 2 normally deal with sickness on a case-by-case basis. If a PGR is taking time off for a long-term sickness, they can be advised to temporarily suspend their studies and are then able to claim sickness benefit during that period; this route means that they do not lose allocated time for PhD completion. It is possible for a PGR to receive payment when they are off sick for up to one month, but only if a medical note is provided. Problems can arise when no medical note is provided. Such cases are dealt with on an individual basis. Longer term sickness cases would be dealt with through face to face discussion to look at all options available and to decide on the most appropriate route for the individual.
It was confirmed that there is no need for PGRs to work back time taken off sick, as suggested in the CNS KESS 2 survey results. The wording of the contract may have been misunderstood.
It was agreed that the wording of the KESS2 student contract needs to be looked at and that maternity leave of 6 months will be added. The KESS2 team are currently working on a KESS 2 maternity / adoption policy / shared parental leave policy, and this will also feed into this FAQ document when finalized.
4. KESS 2 maternity / adoption policy / shared parental leave policy
As above, as KESS 2 maternity / adoption / shared parental leave policy is currently being agreed. We have discussed this with our funders and have set aside central KESS 2 funding to enable us to cover periods of maternity / paternity / adoption as they arise.
5. Access to central printing facilities for KESS 2 PGRs
All KESS 2 postgraduate researchers in the College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering have access to unlimited free printing. However, please note that, as is also the case for staff, the University politely asks that in line with our aspirations to be a sustainable University with reduced environmental impact, please avoid unnecessary printing of documents and only use colour printing when absolutely necessary.
When you log onto the printer with your student card it should say ‘unlimited’ printing, and you may have a negative balance – this is normal, as you are printing with free credit. Please contact Antony Halsall, college manager, (email@example.com) if you are unable to print and he will arrange access.
6. Annual review of KESS 2 project budgets
KESS 2 project budgets are reviewed annually by the KESS 2 team. The reasons for this are:
- to ensure we are on target
- to avoid a cumulative underspend over the three years of a PhD, where we are left with money we have to return to the funders unused (as was the case with KESS 1)
- to see if any unallocated funding can be put to good use to meet other KESS 2 projects’ needs.
The KESS 2 budget is flat, but needs of the diverse range of KESS 2 research isn’t.
If, for example, if a KESS 2 project (typically Arts &Humanities) is not spending their consumables budget (because it’s simply not needed) then we can redistribute that to support more costly projects, to enable further sampling or dissemination of research in other areas etc. etc.
We ask for a budget forecast when a KESS 2 project is submitted, so we have an idea of the shape of budgetary needs for each individual project. This is scrutinised as a part of the KESS 2 approval process.
If budget is needed in year two rather than one, we would roll it over if it is forecasted. If it’s not forecasted then we would scrutinise the project’s needs before any decision was made.
So ‘needing to spend yearly allocations’ is not the route we take – it’s more a question of if / when budget is needed within the funded period – and encouraging good planning and forecasting through effective dialogue.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the level of funding for a KESS 2 postgraduate researcher?
A Research Masters scholarship includes a tax-free training allowance (stipend) of £11,246 for a year, with full-time fees waived by the university and additional standard allowances for travel, conference, consumables, training and support costs.
PhD scholarships include an annual tax-free training allowance (stipend) starting at £14,057 for year 1, with full-time fees waived by the university and additional standard allowances for travel, conference, consumables, training and support costs.
Stipend payments are paid on the submission of complete and approved monthly timesheets and activity details, and are paid in arrears.
Does the postgraduate researcher spend time at the company?
Yes, this is an important element of the KESS 2 model. Scholars will spend a minimum of 30 days per year at the company, subject to agreement. This can be flexible depending on the project.
Is there an annual leave entitlement?
Yes. The postgraduate researcher’s annual leave entitlement for KESS 2 and KESS 2 East is 27 working days. The choice of dates is left to the individual, subject to approval of their academic supervisor and their company supervisor, who should not unreasonably withhold consent. The normal holiday year runs from 1st August to the 31st July. There are normally an additional 8 public holidays, plus any customary holidays :
All holidays must be recorded correctly on your timesheet, along with the hours recorded as normal for those days/weeks that are being taken. Please use Holiday/Annual leave as the activity description.
Please Note: The KESS 2 office does not keep a record of holidays, this should be discussed with your supervisor.