PhD Studentships 2019 - Qs and As

PhD Studentships 2019 - Qs and As

The 2019 call for PhD Studentships is now open. Here are the responses to general enquiries.

*Updated 27Sep19

  • When does the call close and when will we hear?

The call closes at midday on Monday 30 September 2019. Notifications will be made to all applicants on Wednesday 08 January 2020.

  • The form asks for the funding requested from AHDB and the total funding both excluding VAT, how does this work for the likes of consumables?

The studentship funding will cover all project costs. VAT on consumables is not usually recoverable in AHDB funded studentships. Only where sub-contracts are used do we request that these costs should be inclusive of VAT.

  • What is the maximum funding of £74,100 is eligible to cover?

The £74,100 in funding will cover the tuition fees, stipend and experimental costs. The experimental costs can be used for project consumables, laptop costs, and may be used to fund attendance at relevant conferences (please see table below). You are not required to provide a presentation of costings within the proposal.

  • If our fees are higher that the UKRI indicative fee level, will AHDB consider applications that exceed £74,100 to take this into account?

The amount offered for the studentship will not increase if fees are higher that the UKRI indicative fee level; the total amount of funding from AHDB is capped at £74,100 per project.

  • Can we allow for an annual inflation % on the studentship costs?

Funding is available at the levels indicated on the website at a fixed rate. The amount offered for the studentship will not increase based on inflation, and is capped at a total amount of funding of £74,100 per project.

  • Given that experimental costs towards a studentship are £5,300, does the AHDB actively encourage contributions from other organisations? For example, if a PhD project was to cost £100,000 and AHDB were willing to contribute £74,100, could the shortfall be made up by the host organisation or any other?

AHDB would welcome co-funding in projects. Details should be stated in the application.

  • Is London weighting available?

AHDB does not offer additional London weighting.

  • Does AHDB provide extended funding to attract veterinary graduates into the PhD programme?

AHDB does not offer a supplement to the grant for graduates from any field of study.

  • Please clarify whether any specific contribution is required from the host institution?

No, not essential, but leverage of other sources of funding could strengthen a case.

  • Is there funding available for under graduate students?

This call is open for applications for post-graduate studentships only. Funding to support undergraduate students is available from some AHDB sectors, but would be advertised separately on sector websites as a separate call.

  • I am looking to secure additional funds to match fund the AHDB contribution if successful. How far down this road do I need to be in terms of an application/securing additional funding before the AHDB PhD application deadline?

In this situation the application would be scored on its merits at the time of application. If AHDB funding is successful then it will be stated whether or not this offer is conditional on securing the additional funding.

  • If collaborating industrial partners are interested in the studentship. Is it a requirement for them to contribute cash or in-kind if named on the application? If the latter, does a cost breakdown of in-kind contribution have to be included in the proposal?

It is not a requirement for the industrial partners to contribute cash or in-kind funding. If there is an in-kind contribution, only the total value from each source and a short description of the nature of the contribution is required (e.g. materials, equipment etc.).

  • Can students apply?

Unfortunately we do not accept applications directly from students. The application process is for universities to apply to us with a project. If they are successful, recruitment of the student is then undertaken by the University for that particular project.

However, some sectors welcome applications from universities that have already identified a motivated student, in which case a CV and motivation letter must be submitted alongside the application. However, this can still only be submitted by the applying university.

  • Would an application be considered without an AHDB representative?

Naming an AHDB supervisor is not essential in your application. However, in assessing the proposal we would be looking for how you propose to engage with industry in delivering the project.

  • Would a studentship be restricted to 3 years’ duration, or could a studentship be included with a duration of 4-years?

Yes, or even 3.5 years if appropriate, but the amount offered would not change.

  • Would the AHDB consider an application submitted in relation to a Part-Time PhD Studentship over a period of 5 years?

AHDB has in the past funded part-time studentships. However, there would need to be a strong case made for such an arrangement in the project application, and this would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

  • Does the Industry Partner need to be UK based?

It is not necessary for an industry partner to be UK based. Please see section 17 on the guidance document for collaborating organisations.

  • Would it be acceptable for the PhD Studentship - if awarded - to start in April 2020, or would the earliest start date for the current call be autumn 2020?

The proposed start time of the studentship would be considered, but note that the turnaround time between when notification would be issued (08 January 2020) and the proposed start date of 01 April 2020 would be short.

  • Can studentships relating to poultry be included?

AHDB does not collect levy from the poultry industry – so poultry falls outside the AHDB remit. If you have research ideas it might be worth contacting the British Poultry Council at who may be able to advise on industry involvement.

  • What are the criteria for the student eligibility? Could we have students applying either from Europe or Overseas students? If yes, can they be registered for their PhD in countries abroad or should we have them registered in a UK University?

Students outside of the UK would be eligible to apply for an AHDB funded studentship, as long as they have registered to an UK university when undertaking the PhD. We ask that the intended University be specified in the application form.

  • Could you please explain the eligibility for applying regarding the number of supervisors or institutions required? Do we need industrial collaboration or contributions?

There is no specific requirement with regards supervisors or institutions. Applications usually include a main supervisor, plus at least one co-supervisor; which may be reflected in the number of institutions involved. Industry collaboration is encouraged and co-funding is welcome.

  • I have the opportunity to work with an industrial partner, but they have asked if the results from the project could be kept confidential for a period of time. Is this permitted for an AHDB funded studentship where the industrial partner would also look to make a financial contribution?

AHDB will consider proposals where results need to be kept confidential, but this would be dependent on two factors:

  1. the level of funding being contributed by an Industry Partner;
  2. the time scale involved before results could be disseminated to our levy payers.  

Details would need to be documented in the call application.

  • Does this call include the PhD award for agricultural economics/economics subjects? The website link does not seem to refer to this area of research/knowledge development? 

AHDB has put out a very targeted call this year and will only be accepting applications based on the priority areas identified; kindly refer to the table on the full details document.

    • Are supervisors from non-UK universities/research institutes are permitted to take part if the primary supervisor is from the UK?

    The Lead Organisation needs to be UK based, but collaborating organisations can be from outside the UK. In addition the student must be registered at a UK institution.

    • I have read in the Q&A document that including an AHDB representative in the application as a Supervisor might be beneficial with regards to knowledge exchange. I would certainly like to have a named person on the application and wondered if it could be someone relevant from the “Elected members representing the interests of growers”, or should it be someone based at the AHDB?   

    The intention is to interact directly with industry as AHDB will have a direct relationship with the studentship anyway.  The intention is that the industry representative can sense check the ideas for relevance to industry and work with the supervisory team to ensure the project is both academically robust but also of relevance to the industry.

    • We have a company on board who are contributing in kind, and we will work with multiple growers as part of the study, which of course will facilitate knowledge exchange. However, should a named contact at the company also be added as a non-academic Supervisor?

    This will depend on the nature of the relationship between the academic institute and the company.  If there is to be development of a potential product then it may be appropriate to have somebody from the company involved as a non-academic supervisor.  If the relationship is looser than this it may not be necessary.  We would be happy for this decision to be made between the various parties at the inception of the project.

    • Does the lead researcher need to be the University? If so, can the university subcontract to a collaborator to cover staff time, field equipment, for example?

    The lead organisation is the academic institution and is responsible for the submission of the proposal. Any contract issued by AHDB in respect of the Studentship Call will be with the lead organisation. The academic institution may subcontract to a collaborator; they will need to discuss with the collaborator independently in respect of any subcontracting work.

    • How will linked project submissions be treated?

    Whilst it would certainly be possible to add value to link two projects, each should be fundable with clearly defined objectives in their own right.  We will consider cross sector (e.g. beef and dairy) proposals this year and encourage such submissions.  You should indicate where there will be cross sector workings, but put in the sector where you feel the biggest impact will be. It is very acceptable to link two proposals in different sectors.

    • I am trying to complete the AHDB studentship application and just wondering where I can obtain the AHDB Reference from or do I just leave this blank?

    Please leave this blank – this is for internal use.

    DTP QandAs

    • Does AHDB prefer to be a CASE (industrial) partner for UKRI DTPs than to fund full studentships?

    Funding a studentship as industry partner via the UKRI DTP route will enable for AHDB to offer funding for more studentships, hence being the preferable option.

    • Is AHDB willing to accept duplicated applications from UKRI DTPs, that is, for us to submit an identical/similar application to both a UKRI DTP (CASE) and the AHDB call?

    If an application submitted to a UKRI DTP is unsuccessful, this does not preclude the proposal from being fully funded by AHDB.

    • I have never been in touch with AHDB and setting up a shared studentship between them and a DTP might prove a bit more complicated than it seems.

    This needn’t be too complicated.  You would need to agree to our terms as far as reporting and project management are concerned, and we would need to agree a contract.

    •  To start with, the eligibility of applicants differ as the DTP would not take International students on board. Then we would want the applicant to go through the DTP recruitment process, would that be acceptable for AHDB?

    That is fine – we do not select students through our process, rather the projects and supervisor(s), who are then responsible for selecting the students.  In some areas of our portfolio we like to participate in the interview process, but than can be discussed if the project application is successful.

    • We also need to look at the recruitment timing as our interviews won’t be before the end of February but applications open in November. Also DTP students must be funded at 50% minimum by NERC so AHDB would not be able to put more money than the DTP in this studentship.

    We would consider the application on a value-for-money basis from a levy payer perspective.

    • So in theory it would be good to have a match funded studentship with AHDB but this requires a bit of discussion beforehand so we can check if this would work for both funding bodies.

    We could make this work.

    • In terms of funding sharing, we would not require the supervisors to detail the stipend/fees and RTSG costs of the studentship as they are standard. We only require a budget for additional research costs.

    Agreed.  Any higher levels of research costs beyond our standard award would need to be very clearly justified.  We would need to be sure that the project is suitable as a studentship, and not a large research project where the student is only a “pair of hands.”

    • Also it looks like AHDB would be able to act as a CASE partner for a DTP studentship so maybe that is the way to go when submitting a DTP project.

    Yes indeed, and we have seen CASE as a very successful model for delivering students that have an industry understanding

    • Can you inform me on how to fill in the form in this situation regarding funding requirements, i.e. do I put the standard £74,100 for each call, or do I split it?

    You can indicate the cost if AHDB were to fund alone, and the cost if your DTP application is successful.

    Sector Specific QandAs

    • Could you please let me know what kind of projects would fall under the Animal Health & Welfare topic 'Responsible antibiotic use in calves'? For example, would projects related to the reduction of the use of antibiotics or replacement of antibiotics via the use of novel antimicrobials or novel feed ingredients be suitable?

    We would not normally consider accepting PhD proposals where a feed ingredient or novel antibiotic (that is not registered through VMD or other EU regulatory authority) is compared with conventional antibiotics.  Proof of concept studies, however, would be acceptable.   Prospective applicants should consider the regulatory framework for licensing of antibiotic/antimicrobial products in their application.

    • I work with a variety of university collaborators on the development of sustainable approaches to controlling TB risks in cattle, including recent studies on biosecurity measures and monitoring systems for keeping wildlife out of farm buildings and yards. Is this area of research might be an appropriate topic for a PhD studentship application?

    AHDB is interested in all aspects of disease control in livestock. Biosecurity is a fundamental part of disease control although is  often incomplete or even neglected on farm. Whilst we do not have a specific TB research area, TB is the most significant disease of cattle in the UK. In addition, the recommendations of any biosecurity measures identified may be applicable to other diseases too and therefore we would welcome such an application.

    • ‘Utilising data to understand risk of crop pest, weed, crop disease and animal disease outbreaks’: Should the project be based only on existing data and how to use them, or can the project involve in a first step, the collection of the data itself?

     Our interest is to look at innovative ways to analyse and interpret data. If your PhD is looking at innovative ways to collect data, this could also be appropriate for this studentship, so long as the work included analysis and interpretation.

    • 'AMR': Are you accepting applications just on qualitative analysis or does it have to include an economic component? Is there a preferred methodological focus for the beef sector?

    We will judge applications on their merits and are not specifying the nature of methodology or analysis. You are welcome to submit an application focussed in an area of your choice, economic, quantitative or qualitative.

    • How will linked project submissions be treated?

    Whilst it would certainly be possible to add value to link two projects, each should be fundable with clearly defined objectives in their own right.  We will consider cross sector (e.g. beef and dairy) proposals this year and encourage such submissions.  You should indicate where there will be cross sector workings, but put in the sector where you feel the biggest impact will be. It is very acceptable to link two proposals in different sectors.

    Challenge Sheep QandAs

    • The questions asked to the challenge sheep farmers, on farm details, lambing date etc. has this been asked every year or was it just at the beginning of the project?

     Just at the beginning of the project. There would be scope to revisit if deemed necessary.

    •  Can you confirm that there are:  individual ewe data on weight, BCS and if they died or were culled that was taken on five occasions (tupping, scanning, lambing, 8wks after lambing and  90 days after lambing)?

     Yes this is correct.

    •  For lamb performance data, would this include weight of lambs at the two time points after lambing and then if the lambs were slaughtered, sold, died or kept for breeding?

     Please see the list of collected data below.  Please note however, that some data sets are currently incomplete.

    Lamb No

    Lamb Sex

    Lamb Birth Wt

    Lamb 8Wk Wt  

    Lamb 8Wk Date

    Lamb Wean Wt

    Lamb Wean Date

    Lamb Finish date

    Lamb Finish Wt

    Lamb Status

    •  Were/are the lambs ear tagged or marked at birth so they can be identified to the correct dam? Can lamb to ewe connections could be made from the database.

     Yes they are EID tagged and the database would link lamb number to Dam number.

    •  Do all the farms record the same data or do some record more detailed information than others, for example some do weigh lambs and record this whereas others do not?

     Everyone is required to record all basic data (BCS and Weight at the five points through the year and lamb data), It does appear that a couple of the farms provide more data as they already collect it for themselves.