The idea behind the Vacation Bursary scheme is to give undergraduate students a taster of what it is like to do research. The students are given practical, first-hand experience of working on and carrying out research in one of the UK's universities. All students should be in the middle of their first degree, which must be within EPSRC's remit, and should be able to fulfil EPSRC's doctoral training grant eligibility requirements at the end of their undergraduate degree. The projects under taken by the students must be clearly defined, within EPSRC's remit and must not be part of a normal degree course.
Vacation Bursaries are awarded by Universities with EPSRC Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs). As part of the flexibility within DTPs, a university can award up to 15 bursaries per year (averaged over the duration of the doctoral training grant), drawing on funding from within the DTP. Universities may choose to draw funding from the DTP for vacation bursaries offered in the Summer preceding the start of the DTP (for example, may use funding from the 2016/2017 DTP for vacation bursaries offered in Summer 2016). The start and end dates of a DTP will remain fixed.
Each bursary should last an average of ten weeks and take place during the summer vacation. The stipend should be equivalent to two months' of the minimum doctoral stipend. The provision and value of any budget for consumables is at the discretion of the awarding university. The awarding university will be responsible for administering all aspects of the award including:
- Selecting suitable students in line with EPSRC's expectations regarding open access, internationally leading groups and industrial links.
- Ensuring that appropriate supervision is in place for the students.
- Ensuring that all support costs awarded are used and accounted for appropriately.
- Recruitment to Vacation Bursaries is undertaken by the university offering the opportunity and any enquiries from students should be addressed to the relevant university. Not all universities with DTPs choose to offer Vacation Bursaries; it is an option within the flexibility of EPSRC's DTPs.
The selected students should be registered for a first degree (at any UK university) in a subject that falls within EPSRC's remit and must be in the middle years of their degree. The vacation bursary scheme should not be used as a bridge between undergraduate degree and PhD or other work, therefore students who are currently in their final year and who will have completed their degree by the summer are not eligible. Vacation bursaries should be accessible to groups currently under-represented in engineering and physical sciences research.
EPSRC is keen to collect key data on Vacation Bursaries. A Vacation Bursary Student and Project Details Report must be completed for all students who receive a vacation bursary and returned to EPSRC by 01 October each year. Where no vacation bursaries are supported, the university should provide a null return. The university will also need to provide a spreadsheet listing vacation bursaries awarded and funding drawn from the DTP, as an attachment to the Final Expenditure Statement for the relevant DTP.