PIPS COVID flexibility

PIPS Q&A

The DTP is organising a series of Zoom Q&A sessions during November 2020 to discuss PIPS flexibilities and the impact of the COVID lockdown.  There will be one session for each year group so we can focus on the particular issues pertaining to that cohort.  Details about the sessions will be in the DTP newsletter and emails will also be sent out.

In advance of the Zoom sessions, it would be helpful if you could please send any comments or questions to your DTP student reps – See details at the end of the DTP newsletters – and/or to the DTP Co-ordinator, Catherine (email: c.m.liddle@leeds.ac.uk)

PIPS advice and support

Please get in touch with your PIPS contact if you need any further advice and guidance after reading the information below.  We will support you on a one-to-one basis to work out the best PIPS options for you in your particular circumstances.

Existing PIPS flexibilities

Certain flexibilities in arranging PIPS already existed, pre-COVID, and continue to exist.  One of these options might include splitting your PIPS into more than one placement blocks, either with the same or with different host organisations. Separate placement blocks can be held at different times of the year, and across two academic or calendar years, if necessary.  (The best time to undertake PIPS under normal circumstances is usually towards the end of year 2 and the beginning of year 3, to minimise the impact on your studies).

An additional flexibility is that a PIPS can take place on a part-time basis over a longer period of time e.g. 1 or 2 days a week.  The part-time option might be useful in specific circumstances e.g. when a PGR has come back from maternity/paternity leave and has officially extended their PhD period or it might be an option that is agreed with your supervisor to minimise the impact on your research.  It might even be at the request of the PIPS host organisation to support a longer term project.

The DTP is open to being as flexible as possible regarding PIPS placements in these difficult circumstances, for example, a PIPS placement might be valid if it incorporates or builds on outreach activities that you are already undertaking.

It is impossible to prescribe in advance the different possibilities and options for PIPS.  The key point to bear in mind is whether you will gain a valid PIPS experience i.e. whether you will benefit from professional training and expertise delivered through your placement, leading to the development of broader work-related skills.  As mentioned above, any thoughts or ideas you have can be discussed with your local PIPS contact.

PIPS flexibility from the BBSRC

BBSRC logo professional internships for PhD students (PIPS)The White Rose DTP management team has been working to help mitigate the effects of the COVID crisis on your PhD experience. One avenue we took was to ask the BBSRC for some flexibility around the Professional Internship for PhD Students (PIPS).  We hope you understand that your PIPS should be a valuable experience, although we know times have changed and you may be finding things more challenging.  The information below provides the BBSRC responses for each year group.

We hope these flexibilities will enable you to still benefit from your PIPS and to make it a valuable and worthwhile experience.

Note: The BBSRC guidance below refers to the year group PGRs were in at the time lockdown began i.e. March 2020.  

BBSRC guidance for first years (@ Mar20)

  1. First years are expected to undertake a full, 3-month PIPS placement in their second or third years, as normal.  (The best time to undertake a PIPS is usually towards the end of year 2 / beginning of year 3, in order to minimise the disruption to research projects.  PGRs should discuss and agree the specific timing with their supervisor).

BBSRC flexibility for second years (@ Mar20)

  1. A three-month PIPS remains a requirement for PGRs in their second year.
  2. COVID volunteering – If a PGR has taken time out of their PhD to work on COVID-19 research or testing in a NHS, PHE or other setting, this may count toward their PIPS.
  3. Remote-working – If a PIPS host can only offer a remote working option as per their new working conditions, this will be acceptable.

BBSRC flexibility for third / penultimate years (@Mar20)

  1. Shortened period – PGRs in their penultimate (third) year who have yet to complete a PIPS, are expected to still undertake a PIPS. However, this may be reduced, where necessary, to a shortened period of 1 to 2 months, rather than the full 3-month placement.
  2. COVID volunteering – If a PGR has taken time out of their PhD to work on COVID-19 research or testing in a NHS, PHE or other setting, this may count toward their PIPS.
  3. Remote-working – If a PIPS host can only offer a remote working option as per their new working conditions, this will be acceptable.

BBSRC guidance for fourth / final years (@Mar20)

If you were in your final year at the time of the lockdown (i.e. in March 2020), and  have not yet undertaken your PIPS, please get in touch with your local PIPS Contact if you have not already done so.

Reminder: Please get in touch with your PIPS contact if you need any further advice and guidance at any stage of planning your PIPS.  We will support you on a one-to-one basis to work out the best PIPS options for you in your particular circumstances.