Postgraduate research external courses and conference attendance

External Course and Conference Requests

PGR students can apply to use their Proficio funding for attending courses and conferences held outside the University of Essex. You should discuss any training needs and any courses or conferences you have identified with your supervisor as they will need to co-sign your application.

External training courses

If you have identified an external training course which would be beneficial to the successful completion of your research degree, but a similar course is not available through Proficio at Essex, with the Deputy Dean’s (Postgraduate Research Training) approval, you can use your Proficio funds to pay for the course.

Apply for course funds

To apply for approval to use your Proficio funds to attend a training course not provided through Proficio, please complete an approval form (.docx).

Training course definition

  • Will have a tangible outcome such as new skill acquisition.
  • Generally will be around a theme and will have longer sessions.
  • Akin to courses offered under Proficio at the University of Essex.

Conference attendance

PGR students can also use their Proficio funds on conference attendance, subject to the approval of the Deputy Dean (Postgraduate Research Training). Find information and the amount of funds available for conference attendance.

Apply for conference funds

If you would like to attend a conference using Proficio funds, please fill in a conference approval form. (.docx).

Conference definition

  • Generally have a broader topic focus.
  • Usually comprise of multiple presentations that are short and concise, with the programme often including keynote talks that are longer.
  • Larger events where multiple sessions are running at one time (not always the case but this would make an event clearly a conference).
  • Students may have the opportunity to present their own research, organise a session or just attend to increase subject awareness.

Notes on Reimbursement

  • Applications to use Proficio funds for external course/conference attendance must be made in advance. No retrospective claims will be approved or reimbursed.
  • Reimbursement for payments will be made directly to the student and will only be made with prior approval from the Deputy Dean (Postgraduate Research Training) or nominee. It is not possible for advance payments of expenses to be made.
  • Reimbursement can only be made to the student and not to any third party. Any receipts that are not in the student’s name will be unable to be reimbursed.
  • Proficio funds will only be used to reimburse the costs of necessary travel to and from, and necessary accommodation for, external courses/conferences which have been approved by the Deputy Dean (Postgraduate Research Training) or nominee.
  • Proficio funds will be used to reimburse the cost of travel and accommodation after receipts have been provided. If receipts are in a foreign currency, they will be converted to sterling at the time of approved payment unless evidence of the sterling amount paid is given.
  • Reimbursements must be claimed using the “Payment Requisition Form”. All claims must be supported with receipts. Claims made without documentary evidence to support the payment will not be paid. Payment will only be made to a current bank account
  • Subsistence costs (inclusive of food and drink) will not be covered.
  • When planning travel to an external course/conference, students must use public transport and always seek to obtain the best value for money e.g., cheap day returns, use of student railcard. Car mileage may only be claimed where public transport was not available. Approval for reimbursement will only be given when one of the following reasons applies and is stated on the external course/conference application form:
    • public transport is not available or
    • more than one student attending the same external course/conference travelling together makes it more economical.
  • Students requiring accommodation for a multi-day external course/conference should obtain accommodation in a reasonably priced hotel.
  • If accommodation is required for more than one student attending the same external course/conference then multi occupancy hotel rooms can be booked to save on costs. Students should ensure that upon booking the room both parties contribute to the cost of the room. Students will only be reimbursed from their Proficio funds for their own proportion of the overall room cost.
  • Hotel costs will not be covered for attendance at an external course/conference where the event is within a commutable distance from the University, and the cost of accommodation exceeds the cost of daily transport.
  • Approval is given at the discretion of the Deputy Dean (Postgraduate Research Training) or nominee. Please note that for external courses only it is unlikely that requests of more than £250 for travel and accommodation will be approved.
  • The University does not permit the use of Airbnb accommodation and should therefore not be booked. We are unable to authorise or reimburse any expenditure relating to Airbnb costs.
  • If students wish to use their department’s Diversity/Key Travel account to book accommodation and/or travel they must seek prior approval from the Deputy Dean (Postgraduate Research Training) or nominee.

External Courses/Conferences outside the UK

  • Students who wish to attend an external course/conference outside of the UK must first read the guidance on the overseas travel webpages.
  • Students will need to complete a travel insurance application form as soon as possible and no later than two weeks before the date of travel to allow time for assessment of the travel plans. Trips may have to be postponed or cancelled if there are safety concerns that cannot be addressed before travel.
  • Proficio funding applications to attend an overseas external course/conference will not be processed until the travel insurance application form has been completed and signed off by the Insurance Officer and any additional risk assessments required have been completed. No retrospective applications will be approved or reimbursed.

Carer’s Expenses

  • Students can claim for reimbursement of caring expenses if these have been incurred to attend a course/conference. The reimbursement will not be deducted from the student's fund, and instead taken from the general Proficio operating budget.
  • Claims for caring expenses should be submitted on a separate PGR Carers Financial Support Form and are subject to the financial support for PGR Carers guidelines.

Exceptional Funding Requests

  • Students have a set amount reserved in their Proficio funding for course and conference attendance. Students are expected to manage their funding to make best use of the funds available and to ensure that the individual allocations are not exceeded.
  • Once a student exhausts their funding from one part of their allowance (either conference attendance or course attendance) and an additional course/conference arises that would benefit the student in attending, one exceptional funding request can be made to use funds from their other allowance providing there is sufficient funding available.
  • Requests should be made on the Proficio Funds Exceptional Request Form (.doc) and are subject to approval from the Deputy Dean (Postgraduate Research Training) or nominee.
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