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Support for Postgraduate Research students

We recognise that health and wellbeing are crucial ingredients of effective study and contribute to your enjoyment of a rich and fulfilling postgraduate experience. Undertaking postgraduate research is challenging and most people will experience stress or feel anxious at some point during their research degree. Staying well in mind and body isn’t always easy and we understand that it is much more difficult if personal or health problems arise.

Wellbeing Services are here to support our diverse postgraduate research community and are designed to be accessible to all whether you are studying full time, part time or distance learning. Through a range of individual, group and workshop type support, we can help students with disabilities or who are experiencing personal, emotional and mental health difficulties.

Postgraduate research students are able to access all of our support while enrolled at Exeter.

If you are interrupting or thinking of interrupting your studies, have a look at our quick guide and checklists here: Interrupted students: what you need to know

Wellbeing also offer a number of workshops that all students can attend. We also provide a specific set of workshops, only bookable for postgraduate research students, that are geared towards the challenges of post-graduate study. These include:

  • Why Do I Procrastinate and How Do I Stop?
  • Managing Stress in Your Research Degree
  • Why Have I Got to Be Perfect?

Postgraduate research students who experience a physical disability, mental health difficulty, long term health condition or specific learning difficulty may be able to apply for disability related funding for additional support they may require. In order to be eligible for this funding students must have a health condition or disability which fits the criteria to be classi´Čüed as a disability under the Equality Act 2010, (i.e. has or likely to last over a year and has a significant impact on day to day activities).

This funding can help towards additional costs that a student may incur as a result of their disability. This may include:

  • Specialist equipment (e.g. digital voice recorder, assistive software)
  • One-to-one support (e.g. specialist study skills, specialist mentoring)
  • Other costs you have to pay because of your disability (e.g. a travel allowance)

Please be aware that personal care cannot be funded through this funding stream, although Adult Services in your county may be able to help. 

In order to apply for this funding you will need to submit evidence of your disability/health condition to the Wellbeing Service; Accessibility or Mental Health Pathway teams. Appropriate evidence would include:

  • An Educational Psychologist or Specialist Teacher diagnostic report for Specific Learning Difficulties
  • Medical evidence from your doctor or medical health professional either directly from the practice or by using our Medical Evidence form

The process for applying for disability related funding is dependent on the funding stream for your postgraduate research.

How is your postgraduate research funded?

  • United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) students can apply for Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA) through the University Wellbeing Services:
  • Self funding students and University of Exeter funded students can apply for the Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA) through Student Finance England, Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland
  • International and EU students can apply for funding for disability related equipment through charitable trusts or scholarships 

To discuss other sources of support for you, including accessing one to one support, please book an appointment with the AccessAbility or Mental Health pathway to explore your needs in further detail.

When can students start applying for DSA funded support?

You can apply for DSA as soon as you have your award grant number. 

Do I have to reapply for DSA funding if I had DSA in place as an undergraduate student?

You will have to apply for DSA again if you have an additional disability that hasn’t yet been assessed in relation to DSA, if you wish to access Non Medical Helper support such as Specialist Mentoring or Study Skills support or you have additional costs due to your disability for example the requirement to take taxi journeys.

When can students start accessing their DSA support e.g. Mental health mentor support/study skills?

Students would generally start accessing this support once their study skills assessment has been agreed and finalised. However, in some circumstances students may be able to receive up to 3 sessions of support while waiting for their assessment to be finalised. The student will need to speak to the wellbeing services about this.

Can students still access DSA/disability related support when they interrupt their studies?

When students interrupt their studies the university will fund up to one month’s support   after the interruption date, to help the student to plan their period of interruption and to discuss support that they may need to access during the interruption period.  The university will also fund up to one month support prior to the student returning to university to help them plan their return to studies. 

How long will postgraduate students be eligible for DSA funding?

Students can only receive funding until the end of their funded period (Research Council Studentship), usually the first 3 years. They will receive this payment through a stipend. Once the stipend finishes and the student is in their write up year, no financial further support can be obtained through DSA funding.

If a student takes an extended period of time to finish or to write up their postgraduate research, funding of continued/ongoing support would need to be reviewed. Students should contact Wellbeing Services if they wish to discuss support available in further detail.