Coronavirus: FAQs for MVLS staff
These FAQS are in response to requests for information from colleagues across the College. They are in addition to the University’s main Coronavirus FAQ page, which is being updated regularly and can be found at: https://www.gla.ac.uk/myglasgow/news/coronavirus/
These FAQs are also in addition to any local guidance you have been given. If you have additional questions or points of clarification, please email Mark Edwards (email@example.com)
University Research Ethics
Will my College Research Ethics Committee accept new applications during the COVID period?
You should prepare your application and submit it in the usual way (if you are off-campus, some links may not work without remote desktop connection – the Research Ethics System is accessible via Business Systems).
Approval for some research that does not involve face to face contact may still be issued*. You should contact your College Ethics Officer for advice: firstname.lastname@example.org.
*COVID 19 related research is being prioritised by the MVLS Research Ethics Committee and may be reviewed by convening short, proposal specific, online/zoom committee meetings. Research teams may be asked to attend on a case by case basis as required.
I have a project approved by my College Research Ethics Committee that involves face to face research activities. Can I continue my research?
No. All research involving face to face contact should remain on hold until further notice. The University will provide updates in line with the Scottish Government COVID 19 route map strategy.
Do all research activities need to be postponed?
Yes. All non-essential face to face research activity should remain on hold until it can be restarted safely and in line with Scottish Government COVID 19 route map strategy.
Is it possible to amend my research protocol to allow me to conduct the study in a way that avoids face to face contact?
It may be possible to amend your research project to allow the research to continue. You must consider your ethical approval and data protection responsibilities before adopting any new data collection method. Consult your local ethics officer in the first instance. Any changes to the consent process must be communicated to, and approved by, your College Research Ethics Committee before you proceed.
Make sure the tool you use is compliant with GDPR requirements. Do not record confidential data to a cloud server if it is outside the European Union or adequate safeguarding is not in place. If you use the University of Glasgow’s Zoom service (uofglasgow.zoom.us) you can record meetings locally.
Make sure you enable local recording (https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362473-Local-Recording) and that you continue to follow the University’s guidance on handling confidential data: https://www.gla.ac.uk/myglasgow/it/informationsecurity/confidentialdata/
You can also get guidance on GDPR compliance by contacting the University Data Protection Office directly (email@example.com).
If I suspend my research during the COVID period my ethics approval will expire. Should I apply for an extension?
All studies that have been approved by a University ethics committee will be automatically extended for six months. There is no need to apply for an extension. If you need to extend your research further, please contact your local ethics officer who will be able to advise as to how you should proceed.
Information for staff and students involved in research within the NHS
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, non-critical NHS related research activity involving face-to-face contact with participants, as well as approval of new non-COVID studies, was suspended to allow NHS resources to be directed towards the crisis response.
As the nature of the response evolves, consideration is now being given to when non-COVID research activity may be able to restart, within the context of relevant government COVID guidance. The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has published a framework by which these decisions will be made; details can be found here:
The priority for restarting research will be as follows:
- Level 1: Essential studies providing evidence for pandemic management, i.e. nationally prioritised COVID-19 Urgent Public Health (UPH) Research studies
- Level 2: Studies where the research protocol includes an urgent treatment or intervention without which patients could come to harm. These might be studies that provide access to potentially life-preserving or life-extending treatment not otherwise available to the patient
- Level 3: All other studies (including new COVID-19 studies not in Level 1)
The primary considerations for recommencing any suspended research activity will be:
- Study viability: from scientific, clinical, financial or practical perspectives
- Safety: of both participants and research staff
- Capacity & site readiness: ability of local sites to accommodate the research
The decision to restart will be the responsibility of the sponsor, funder, chief investigator, the study site(s) legal entity, and, where applicable, the principal investigator.
- If you are a member of staff and your study is sponsored by NHS GG&C, the sponsor representative will likely be someone from the Research & Innovation (R&I) Office (formerly known as R&D):
Contact information for other Scottish NHS R&D offices can be found here
- If you are a member of staff and your study is sponsored by the University, the contact is Dr Debra Stuart (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- If you are a student and your study is sponsored by either NHS GG&C or the University of Glasgow, the contact is Emma-Jane Gault (email@example.com)
Research Applications and Funders
Applying for Funding
Can I still apply for funding calls that are currently open?
Funders are planning to maintain grant application deadlines. Until further notice, the TRM team will continue to support grant applications however please allow extra time ahead of the funder submission deadline. Please contact your Project Coordinator directly by email. If you are unsure who you should contact then please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Please field queries to the MVLS Research Office rather than going directly to your funders. This will minimize yours and the funding agency’s time and save duplicating effort.
Will funder deadlines be extended?
Many funders are planning to maintain grant application deadlines. Extensions to calls are likely to be funder and / or scheme specific so please check the funder website for further information.
Will the university still be approving applications to the funders?
The Research Support Office is now operating remotely, but all core services will be supported including the approval of applications to funders. Please allow extra time for approvals. Please continue to contact your Project Coordinator by email.
Will there be delays to the outcome of grants by the funders?
Some funders may postpone or delay reviewing applications. This is likely to be funder and / or scheme specific, so please check funder websites for further information.
When will the MRC Confidence in Concept 2020 call be announced?
A joint call for MRC Confidence in Concept (CiC) and the new Early Concept Development (ECD) grant scheme, funded under the new Wellcome Trust Institutional Translational Partnership Award (iTPA), opened on 29th May 2020.
This is an open call with a review of the first tranche of applications anticipated in July/August 2020; however, it is likely that the start of the projects will be delayed until research activities within the University have resumed.
Project awards are expected to be in the region of £50k-£80k for MRC CiC, and up to £20k for Wellcome ECD, with objectives completed within 6-12 months (CiC) or within 3-6 months (Wellcome ECD) of the award date. For more information, contact Chris Mort or Louise Mason.
Are applications currently being accepted for BBSRC IAA, MRC P2D and BBSRC Excellence with Impact?
My grant is due to start in the coming months, what should I do?
You may activate a grant as planned if it will provide continuation of employment for an existing staff member. The relevant Research Support Team member (Project Coordinator) will discuss extending an individual to ensure there is sufficient budget and that the funder terms and conditions do not explicitly prohibit transferring a member of staff on to a grant where they aren’t immediately able to start their research (due to e.g. lack of access to facilities). This may be particularly important when the new grant is from a different funder to current source of funding.
PI will need to carefully consider the potential impact of starting a new grant at a time when access to labs and essential facilities and equipment will be severely restricted and ensure any staff transferred to the new grant are able to begin appropriate activities from home. This justification should be recorded through the Research Support Team for any future discussions with the funder.
In all other circumstances, PIs are advised to delay the start of the grant for as long as permitted by the funder unless the nature of the research planned allows for the work to be started from home.
College Research Support Team will check funder terms and conditions for each new award to confirm how long a delay is possible.
Where a PI wishes to start a grant, they will be asked to provide an assessment of the risk of starting during a period with limited access to research facilities and equipment for consideration by the Director of Institute. This justification should be balanced against any risks around the need for no cost extensions to complete any research, particularly if staff will be appointed on to a grant but unable to immediately start (due to lack of access to facilities etc). Where the Director and PI are in doubt cases may be referred to Dean of Research for review.
Can I proceed with recruitment to any grant-funded posts?
Research grants may commence on a risk-based judgement basis, as determined by PI in discussion with Research Support Team / Director of Institute (as appropriate). This would be particularly where the new grant is intended to provide continuation of employment for an existing research-funded member of staff.
In areas where effective research requires access to laboratories and other facilities that are currently closed or providing reduced service, recruitment should be deferred appropriately following discussion with the funder. This delay would best be agreed ahead of finalising the start date but could also be negotiated for grants that have an agreed start date in the system. Please contact your Research Support Team (Senior Project Coordinators) for advice.
Recruitment to grant funded posts will be able to start 6 months ahead of the funder agreed start date of the grant.
How will additional costs be met due to research being suspended?
This will vary dependent on the funder and the nature of cost. The University is actively engaging with funders to seek clarity on this.
What is the risk to research staff with working visas if research is suspended?
It is anticipated that most major funders will confirm they will support research grants which are impacted by these circumstances. The University is actively engaging with funders to seek clarity on this and will provide updates when available. Working permissions will not be affected where the individual continues on their contract of employment. In the event of any extension to employment being approved, an application to extend the visa should be made in the usual way. If you are affected by coronavirus and you have concerns about your immigration status, please contact email@example.com
What records do I need to keep in relation to suspended research?
Please keep a record of research that has been impacted so that we can quickly coordinate approaches to funders once business as usual resumes.
- Funder and grant reference number
- Subproject number
- What has stopped / been suspended and duration
- Potential impact
- Details of staff funded on the grant who have been affected
Will all research grants that are suspended be restarted again and contracts fulfilled/extended?
It is anticipated that most major funders will confirm they will support research grants which are impacted by these circumstances. The University is actively engaging with funders to seek clarity on this and will provide updates when available.
Can I claim travel/event costs to my grant where travel/events have been cancelled?
We anticipate that funders will adopt a pragmatic approach on this, however it is likely to be variable, as such please refer to the individual funder’s guidance. More information on travel advice can be found on the website: https://www.gla.ac.uk/myglasgow/news/coronavirus/faqs/
For updates from research funders and further information on funding calls, please visit https://www.gla.ac.uk/myglasgow/research/covid-19researchfundingadvice/
Can I extend my studies as a result of COVID19 restrictions?
All MVLS PhD students (clinical and non-clinical) have the option of applying for an extension to cover time lost during COVID19 restrictions. Time extensions will be granted in all situations where the PGR students and supervisors agree that the student's progress has been hampered by COVID19 restrictions. More information on Extension of Studies is available here: https://www.gla.ac.uk/colleges/mvls/graduateschool/currentpgrstudentinformation/absence/
Information has been issued to students and supervisors regarding applying for an extension and this includes details on funding. Please contact the PG Research Office or the Graduate School if you require any clarification.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and Research Funded Roles
What is Government guidance for research-funded roles?
Government guidance for education providers confirms that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is in scope for research-funded staff (including those who are publicly funded) where:
- Research has been paused (because the individual cannot work productively from home and/or the research cannot be conducted productively from home) and
- No-cost extensions would be available and
- The University is not able to receive payments towards staff costs for a period of time, resulting in a loss of income due to ceased or reduced delivery of research programmes.
It is important to quickly identify research-funded posts that meet this definition to ensure all staff who are eligible for CJRS funding are furloughed. We must also act quickly to request no cost extensions for affected projects.
What is the University’s position regarding the CJRS and furlough of research-funded staff?
The University’s position is to furlough staff where possible. Furloughing research-funded staff allows the PI to recover 80% of salary up to £2.5K per month for those individuals. Funds saved during the disruption can be used to extend the staff member’s contract. However, it may not be possible to extend the contract to cover the entire duration of the grant extensions, due to the limitations of 80% salary up to £2.5K per month.
PIs are responsible for ensuring the funds spent on research grants are spent in an effective manner.
Which research funded roles are in scope for furlough?
All staff employed on external funding are in scope for furlough. This includes, but is not limited to research (PDRA, RA, etc), MPA (Project Managers, Administrators, etc) and technical staff.
When should a research-funded staff member be considered for furlough?
If staff cannot work productively due to external factors such as caring responsibilities, then it is important that they are considered for furlough at the earliest opportunity.
The health and wellbeing of staff and the volume of activity which can be reasonably achieved for the project must be considered. If working from home causes undue stress, or work cannot be conducted safely or productively, staff should be furloughed and unspent salary costs used to support a project extension. In this case the research activity is paused.
If the staff member is able to work productively from home, however the research or research support activity directly associated with the grant cannot be productively conducted from home, then they must be considered for furlough. In this case the research activity is paused.
What are the benefits of furlough for research-funded staff?
- Salary cost recoveries will allow contracts to be extended at the end of the grant, assuming the funder allows extension. Initial feedback from funders is that they will generally be pragmatic regarding no-cost extensions.
- Furloughed staff can spend time on their professional development (but there is no obligation to do so). This could be an ideal time for study, reflection, or learning new skills to benefit their career.
- We show to our funders that we have taken decisive action to mitigate costs and impact to our research by the use of furlough.
- Furlough has no detrimental effect on job security or opportunities for advancement – the scheme is entirely a temporary measure.
What career development activities can research-funded staff carry out if they are furloughed?
While you are not performing your contractual duties, you may wish to pursue career development opportunities. Whilst there is absolutely no obligation to do so, you will still be able to access University systems for such purposes.
Online training that will support your career development is encouraged, provided it doesn’t provide a service to the University. You should seek advice from you PI about which opportunities are best suited to you.
What do I do when I identify someone suitable for furlough?
Further information on notifying and monitoring furloughed staff is available here: https://www.gla.ac.uk/myglasgow/humanresources/jobretentionscheme/jobretentionschemepolicyguidance/
Should I notify my funder?
When you identify staff to be furloughed, the Research Support Team will advise and support you with communications to funders to request no-cost extensions, as required. Please contact your usual Project Coordinator for advice.
Changes to normal working practices
Will the duties staff perform change?
In the current circumstances, there are wide-ranging efforts underway to reorganise work across UoG. This will involve significant changes to jobs across the University, both in terms of what work is required and how that work is undertaken. Staff should be ready to discuss with their managers how such re-focusing might work and be ready to undertake different duties as requested, which in some cases could mean performing distinctly different roles for a period of time. This will be a two-way discussion, informed by local business priorities, individual skills and personal circumstances.
What will people be working on now?
Details on operational risks and shortages are being developed. HoPS are providing details on the experience and expertise of staff. When this is collated a process of deploying individuals to work on areas that match their skillset will begin. Short-term, much of this need is likely to be focussed around student administration.
Will I receive training and development if I am redeployed?
If staff are redeployed to work in other areas they will receive support and training from experts in that specific area.
Do I need to seek approval to work remotely?
If you are off work due to sickness, please follow normal sickness reporting protocol.
If you are working from home/remotely, you must discuss with your line manager the implications of this and establish any times when you may be required (subject to illness/self-isolation requirements) to attend University premises to work. Due to potential requirements for staff to undertake alternative duties, the ability to work at home may not be static – this may vary as and when your role does. When informing your line manager, please indicate the circumstances in which you are at home – for example, working from home with no symptoms; self-isolating due to symptoms (including self-isolation due to the symptoms of another person in your household); or at home due to caring responsibilities.
Members of my team are based/currently abroad. What should I be advising them to do?
Managers should ensure they maintain regular contact with those working abroad as part of normal communications and support. There is no standard advice for those working abroad as the advice required is likely to be specific to the individual and country. The line manager should review the specifics of each individual situation, including ensuring the employee is following local official guidance, the impact of any quarantine or travel restrictions, the requirement for work to be carried out abroad and UK guidance re social distancing, hygiene and those deemed to in a high risk category https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/. Specifically, staff should be advised of:
- the risk of being stranded in the country
- the risk of contracting Covid-19 while they are overseas with the possibility of having to rely on local health services
- the risk of being alone and ill and the difficulty that may bring if self-isolating
Staff based abroad and their line managers should also ensure they monitor FCO guidance on a regular basis: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus. The University should recommend that employees return to the UK if they wish to – staff should not be required to remain overseas against their will. Employees should be financially supported in this return if they are travelling as part of their work. The cost of returning should not prevent anyone from coming back to the UK if they judge this to be the safest approach. However, we should not compel people to return against their own judgement of the risk they face locally particularly if they judge that they are safer remaining where they are. That may be particularly the case if individuals are familiar with the country and may have local contacts and support.
Where there are any particular concerns, these should be raised locally via School/Institute management and with College HR contacts in the first instance.
My contract is due to end soon and my visa will expire shortly after, but I am unable to travel home. What should I do?
Firstly, you should speak with your line manager to establish whether your contract will be ending as planned. If yes, you should raise your visa concerns with your College HR contact and refer to UKVI guidance https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration and/or speak directly with UKVI. Both College and Central HR teams will keep fully up to date with UKVI guidance and will support you to work through any necessary processes.
What happens with funding-end/fixed-term contract staff whose contract is due to expire in the next few months?
Normal arrangements may be sufficient, but line managers and their staff should discuss and seek to clarify any special circumstances arising. Should there be a need for special circumstances to be considered then the line manager would liaise with their Institute/School management team. It is recognised that such staff may be concerned about employment security, and that current events may add complications and uncertainty. Careful consideration will be given to special circumstances.
Accessing files from home
Details on accessing files are available on this page: https://www.gla.ac.uk/myglasgow/anywhere/
What should I do with work telephone calls?
Rather than forward your calls to your mobile/home number, which can incur call charges, you can change the greeting on your voicemail to inform callers that you can be contacted by email. You can then forward all calls to voicemail.
You may need to follow the guidance for your specific phone. If you are unsure, IT will be able to help.
Will staff recruitment continue during this period?
Staff recruitment processes are only continuing in a limited number of cases. Appointing committee meetings and interviews will be conducted normally via Zoom. For more information please contact your Local Resourcing Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org
I need to access University facilities to conduct essential work. How do I prove my key worker status if asked by authorities?
Some essential services necessitate a small number of staff attending the University to perform some or all of their duties. This is classified as “Key Worker” activity under government guidance. Your Head of Professional Service maintains details of all staff in this category.
While there is no legal requirement for key workers to carry evidence, some authorities and service providers may request documentary evidence. Key workers are advised to ensure they carry their University staff card and general ID documentation, and the University can provide a letter specifying that the individual is considered a key worker. If you are a key worker and require such a letter then please contact your local Head of Professional Services.
Key worker status will be kept under ongoing review in order that on-site attendance requirements can be kept to a minimum, and as such the Key Worker letter would normally be reviewed and renewed on a monthly basis.
What will happen to ‘critical’ buildings (those that must maintain some level of service)
Some buildings contain essential services and facilities (liquid nitrogen, Co2 incubators and animals). These facilities require a continuous level of service provision. A list of key workers has been identified for all functions and rotas have now been established.
When will we return to campus?
When we reach Phase 2 in the Scottish Government’s route map we will begin to be able to open more buildings on-campus, however due to physical distancing measures numbers will be restricted. Access will be limited to those who absolutely need to be there (e.g. those whose research requires access to wet labs, or facilities restricted to campus). If you can work from home, you should continue to do so for now. If you are in any doubt whether this applies to you then please speak to your line manager.
The University’s Recovery Principles and guidance and information for staff and students can be found on the newly launched COVID-19 Recovery Web-pages. For information about your Institute / School or Service, please contact your line manager.
What is the University doing to ensure we are safe on return to campus?
The University has a Recovery Working Group which has representation from all Colleges and Services. This group is overseeing the planning for a safe return to campus.
The College and our Schools, Research Institutes and Services are drawing up local plans to ensure buildings can be managed safely in compliance with government guidance and the University’s Recovery Principles.
The University’s Recovery Principles and guidance and information for staff and students can be found on the newly launched COVID-19 Recovery Web-pages. For information about your Institute / School or Service, please contact your line manager.
Volunteering with the NHS
Who might be asked to volunteer for NHS work?
- Clinical academics with relevant medical skills
- Staff with relevant scientific and technical skills, e.g. PCR testing
All medical clinical academics have been invited to indicate to the College whether they would volunteer for enhanced NHS duties, and this information is being shared with the NHS. Staff identified as relevant will then be contacted, and some such arrangements are already being put in place. As the situation evolves there may be further requests for volunteers.
The College will consider essential teaching and assessment work when discussing with the NHS what level of NHS duties could be accommodated.
If I volunteer to help the NHS, will I have to work at another location?
You should be prepared to work from different locations, as demand necessitates. Staff will be deployed based on experience. The College is in discussion with NHS GG&C and further information will be provided shortly.
I am studying a PhD and have been asked to volunteer for the NHS, can I do this?
Yes. The College can ‘stop the clock’ on your studies, so that you can recommence studies when you return from voluntary activities. Speak to your supervisor and relevant others to develop a contingency plan and manage the practicalities associated with your absence.
Can I postpone my planned annual leave?
The normal annual leave protocols continue to apply. Please discuss any proposed leave cancellation/postponement with your line manager. We recognise that planned holidays over several days duration away from home are not possible at present and that staff may wish to cancel planned holidays having discussed with their line manager. Staff should, nonetheless, consider taking days off (i.e. not working) during the lock-down to relax and pursue hobbies in their homes and gardens in order to help preserve their physical and mental wellbeing. Line managers will continue to work with individuals and across their teams to ensure that leave arrangements are staggered and coordinated with operational needs.
Can I carry more annual leave over to next year?
The University/College will try to be flexible regarding leave and carry-over requests within the constraints of needing to have sufficient staff to maintain the University's core business. The formal University policy position regarding carry over remains unchanged given that as it stands we hope that for most staff taking normal annual leave across the year can still be planned and accommodated and so avoid the need for special extra carry over, but certainly we recognise that there may be special cases and possible wider review.
Changes to Public Engagement
I am receiving requests for Covid-19 information from my stakeholders/public groups. Where should I direct them?
I am part of a Public Patient Involvement group. What information should I give them?
Most PPI groups are not meeting. The UK Clinical Research Collaboration is putting together approaches to facilitate continuation of involvement meetings (see https://www.ukcrc.org).
The MVLS Public Patient Involvement group will continue to meet by email. The group is willing to review public-facing materials you produce.
I was to be hosting/managing a PE event, what should I do?
Advise attendees, venue, participants and suppliers that you are cancelling or postponing the activity. We suggest you use the following text to notify attendees: “Following the advice of the Scottish Government this event is now cancelled/postponed. Customers who have tickets for the event will automatically receive a full refund over the coming weeks. Our box office staff will contact customers directly if there are any issues, please bear with us as we work through the refund process at this challenging time.
Please refer to our website and social channels for further updates over the coming weeks.
We greatly appreciate your support at this time.”