Flexible Funding

What is flexible funding?

Under the MRC LID DTP grants the MRC provides funding support for the MRC LID students’ tuition fees, maintenance stipend allowances, RTSGs (Research Training Support Grant), and travel & conference allowances. This grant also has an additional flexible supplement (over and above standard MRC studentship allowances) to support unique training opportunities for all MRC-funded students at both partner institutions (LSHTM and SGUL) – we refer to it as ‘flexible funding’.

The MRC has indicated that the flexible funding should be used for:

  • High cost training in recognised areas of strategic need, including support for extra training, such as Masters, for individuals changing discipline
  • Exceptional training opportunities, such as:
    • overseas fieldwork where this is an essential part of a student’s training
    • time ‘out of programme’ to complete a complementary and beneficial placement
    • training in new advanced research skills
  • Opportunities to provide training with industry or at the interdisciplinary interface
  • Transitions from PhD to first post-doc positions to increase the competitiveness of outstanding candidates.

For more information please see the latest guidance from the MRC to the DTP (Sept2018). (Please note that this is guidance to the DTP, but the final decision on whether MRC LID will fund any flexible funding request will come from the board, where the guidance is one of many aspects to the decision.)

Is flexible funding available to me?

If you are currently registered as a student at SGUL or LSHTM, and in receipt of a studentship or fellowship funded by MRC, and you are part of the MRC Cohort, you are eligible to apply for this funding.

How do I apply for it?

  1. Read the information on this page before making an application.
  2. Explore all options before making an application. This should include
    • a) checking whether this should be paid from the student’s annual RTSG and travel/conference allowance instead, and
    • b) if the funding is for training checking whether either institution offers this training already (eg module or short course), which should be applied for instead.
  3. Consult with supervisors.
  4. Complete the MRC LID Flexible Funding application form.
  5. Prepare a budget for the flexible funding.
  6. Prepare a budget budget/explanation of how you have spent/allocated your RTSG and Travel & Conference allowance to date, and for the remainder of the award.
  7. Send the completed form and two fully costed budgets to the Admin Team – using the email address mrclid@lshtm.ac.uk.

What else do I need to know?

The MRC LID Flexible Funding Application Flow Chart will provide students with a quick overview of the process. For more on filling in the application form:

  • An MRC LID panel, comprising academics from both partner institutions, will make decisions on how the flexible supplement is spent based on who will benefit most from further support.
  • Students should assume that the MRC LID panel reviewing this application has no information about their plans, so should provide a detailed overview including a travel itinerary (with planned dates); training course/s title and the name of the training provider; details of organisations and contacts for placements/institutional visits etc. The town/city and country of the training provider or organisation/institution being visited should also be included (eg WHO, Geneva or University of Western Australia, Perth).
  • If students are travelling they should ensure comprehensive travel and health insurance is arranged through their standard institutional providers, using their primary institution’s usual procedures, prior to the start of the trip.
  • Please be aware that the MRC LID Flexible Funding will not cover (reimburse) food and drink receipts as it is expected that these will be covered by the student’s living allowance (stipend).
  • This funding is in addition to/separate from an MRC-funded student’s RTSG and travel/conference allowance. Therefore, costs incurred through the Flexible Funding must be reported on return from the training/placement the funds were for (and separately to each standard quarterly spreadsheet reporting).

After the form has been submitted

Once an application has been considered by the MRC LID panel the applicant will receive an email to advise whether or not his/her application has been successful, and if it has to confirm the maximum contribution the MRC LID Grant will make towards their travel/training.

If an application has been successful, the student will be advised of the procedure for accessing the money (see award email for details).

Flexible funding awards will be processed as an advance. Students will be required to submit sufficient evidence of expenditure (in the form original receipts) to match the award amount. Any underspend – that is, the difference between the full contribution (advance) and the amount spent (or receipts provided) – will need to be reimbursed to the grant. If an award is specifically for itemised budget areas we will only accept receipts for the specified expenditure.

On returning from training/travel students awarded flexible funding must follow both of the steps below.

  1. Complete MRC LID Studentship Feedback report
  2. Complete expenditure reporting and paperwork by
    • labelling and group together all receipts they wish to claim against the advance *, and
    • completing the MRC LID Expenses Breakdown spreadsheet, itemising transactions and breaking them down into the appropriate categories **, and
    • submitting the claim (MRC LID Expenses Form with the expenses breakdown spreadsheet and original receipts) to the MRC LID email address.

The MRC LID administrator/s will use your receipts and expenditure spreadsheet to calculate a mini-reconciliation of the award. Please note, any payments made in a currency other than GBP should be recorded in the local currency and converted to Pounds (GBP) on the expenses form. Where receipts are not in English please note the English translation. We check all non-GBP expenses via OANDA currency converter (using historical rate as per date mentioned on respective receipts). Any unused funds (or expenditure not covered by a receipt) will need to be repaid, the MRC LID administrator will contact you with details of how to return funds if needed once the mini-reconciliation is complete.

* MRC LID will not reimburse items for which there is no accompanying receipt or the receipt is illegible. Therefore, where possible, we advise students make a copy of their receipts in case of loss or damage.
** Payments made in local currency should be recorded in local currency and converted to British Pounds (GBP) in a separate column. The exchange rate and conversion into GBP, item by item, must be calculated and shown on the spreadsheet. Where receipts are in a local language, please provide an English translation.)