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Message posted on 29/11/2020

UPDATE AND REMINDER: Open Letter to UKRI from Anthropology PhDs, Supervisors and Staff

Hello again,

We wrote to you a few days ago on behalf of UKRI-funded anthropology PhD students, asking you to sign an open letter in support of our bid for funded extensions.

We are encouraged by the fact that 317 of you have decided to help push back against UKRI's announcement that it will provide only limited funded extensions for non-final-year PhD students. This directly affects all anthropology PhD students whose fieldwork has been unavoidably postponed or interrupted by COVID-19.

In case you have not yet signed your name, we would be very grateful if you would consider doing so by Friday 4th December.

Convincing UKRI to grant 6-month funded extensions to all current PhD students will help us to complete our projects at the doctoral standard for which they have funded us. Without these extensions, many anthropology PhD students will not be able to complete their PhDs, or may have to apply for jobs to support themselves during the write-up phase. This will undoubtedly affect the quality of their final theses and their future job prospects.

Please read and sign the open letter here, and share with your networks (including on social media) if you have not already done so. If anyone has any contacts in the media, please direct them to this petition.

We also recognise that anthropologists are not the only researchers who are negatively impacted by UKRI's decision. We welcome signatures from members of other disciplines and from those outside the UK. These will be included in the open letter when we send it to the UKRI.

Finally, if you are an anthropology PhD student, we want to hear how UKRI's decision has impacted your research. Please share a summary of your specific case, of up to 300 words, with Alastair Lomas by 4th December (alastair.lomas@postgrad.manchester.ac.uk). These will be compiled and shared to the UKRI anonymously when we publish the letter.

A huge THANK YOU for all your continued support - we're feeling the solidarity!

From UKRI-funded anthropology PhD researchers at the University of Manchester AND everyone who has signed the letter.

Ben Eyre Alastair Lomas Jennifer Moore Alexander Pegge Fiona Potter Alexandra Tomkins

P.S. In case you would like to forward this email and our original email on to anybody in your network, please find the text of the original email below:

We are writing to you as UKRI-funded PhD researchers in anthropology at the University of Manchester. You will likely have heard about UKRI's alarming recent announcement that it would be offering extremely limited support to PhD researchers not currently in their final year. We are pushing back against this announcement.

It is our hope that you and your colleagues will consider signing this open letter voicing your support for current fieldwork-year PhD researchers and asking UKRI to provide 6-month funding extensions to all those affected.

UKRI has recently decided to offer only limited support to PhD researchers with funding end dates between 1st April and 30th September 2021 or with ongoing support needs, and no additional funds to those with end dates after 1st October 2021. Throughout the UK, many UKRI-funded PhD researchers have been prevented from starting fieldwork, or have had their fieldwork severely interrupted, by institutional and governmental restrictions on research and travel introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a consequence, the majority will find it impossible to complete their projects to a doctoral standard according to their original timeframes, as explicitly requested by UKRI, even as they follow advice to work with their supervisors to make changes and adjustments. UKRI's announcement has been particularly poorly timed, coming in the middle of a second UK lockdown and after eight months without updates to researchers in the middle of their PhDs.

The open letter is being sent out to all UK anthropology departments, organisations and associations (including RAI, ASA, EASA). It highlights the particular difficulties faced by fieldwork-year PhD researchers at this time, and asks UKRI to provide six-month blanket funding extensions to all those affected. As university funding policies are often adjusted to fall in line with UKRI policy, we are hoping that non-UKRI PhD researchers will benefit too.

We are therefore asking that all anthropology PhD researchers, their academic supervisors and other departmental staff (academic and administrational) sign this letter in support of their fieldwork-year colleagues, by Friday 4th December. Please also share it with your wider networks in case there are groups we have missed, including interdisciplinary PGRs, fields and organisations. Once we have collected your signatures, the letter will be sent to the heads of UKRI and the research councils.

If your fieldwork has been interrupted or postponed since March 2020, please feel free to send us a case study of up to 300 words outlining the particular difficulties you have faced. We are compiling anonymous case studies of how anthropology PhD fieldwork has been affected. These will be attached as an appendix to the letter when it is sent to UKRI and the research councils to support our requests. Please send these to alastair.lomas@postgrad.manchester.ac.uk.

We will send out an update on any progress during the week beginning 7th December 2020.

Many thanks for your support.


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