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Covid-19: The Minister of Science expects there will be a legal framework to extend the grant in July

Covid-19: The Minister of Science expects there will be a legal framework to extend the grant in July

The Minister of Science said today that the government expects to have in July the “appropriate legal framework” that will allow the extension of scientific research grants that have been punished with a second imprisonment due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Manuel Hitor admitted to Lusa that it was “absolutely logical” that the scholarship period be extended to researchers who “saw their work effectively affected”, especially with “fieldwork” and who “were unable to go to the labs” due to a total lockdown. And the direct activities in universities to which laboratories and scientific centers were added, for the second time since 2020, between last January and mid-May were stopped.

The government decided in March to extend the period of research grants to obtain a PhD, which expired during the first quarter, until May, as an exceptional and temporary measure in the scope of the epidemic, but this measure sparked protests by scholarship holders, which demanded an extension of scholarships. The ongoing scientific research, somewhat similar to what happened on the first reservation, in March and April 2020.

In March of last year, all scientific research grants, not just PhD scholarships, were automatically extended by two months by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), although the grants provided only by FCT, represent an additional investment for the entity. Public contribution of 12 million euros, which covered about 5,000 scholarships funded directly by the agency that works under the auspices of the government.

We work to ensure that all of those who have a reasonable justification … scholarships are extendedToday, at the request of the PCP, the hearing in Parliament on the subject was approved unanimously by Lusa Manuel Hitor, last week by the Committee on Education, Science, Youth and Sports.

The minister hopes to obtain an “appropriate legal framework” to extend the scholarships for scientific research in the “next two months.”

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Last March, extension of scholarships (limited to doctoral degrees) was conditional on allocating the budget of funding entities, such as universities and FCT, and on the request of the recipient based on “serious harm” resulting from the reservation.

At a mass parliamentary hearing on April 13, Manuel Hitor, in response to criticism from PCP and BE, considered that the scholarship extension was “without question, and that it has been dissolved” and that it was targeting PhD students intending to complete their theses studies.

Three days later, following a protest by scholarship holders at the door of the ministry, in Lisbon, the minister changed his speech, confirming, in Lusa’s statements, that the deadline for “all scientific and research work affected by the epidemic” will be extended.

Justifying the Science Minister’s return to Parliament, the PCP understands that since then, researchers’ expectations have been disappointed.

The scope of scientific research fellowships includes start-up, master’s, doctoral, or post-doctoral fellowships.

To receive this type of support, which is paid monthly and which can be awarded by FCT or by the university, applicants cannot have any paid activity, under the statute of the research fellow.