Quitting PhD - Do I have to pay EPSRC back?

As you can tell by the title of this thread I am intending to quit my PhD, the only question is the timescale.

I can stay until the end of the year, write up my research as an Mphil and then leave with no financial penalties or I can go now. But if I go now (my preferred option) do I have to pay back EPSRC for the fees/cost of living expenses paid to me so far? If so then it looks like I’m stuck here for another six months, if not it’s job hunting time.

I would appreciate any comments that people have.

I don’t believe so, unless there’s a new rule. They could ask for any money paid in advance (e.g. they’ve paid you a term in advance and you leave before the term is up).

That is excellent news, I shall commence job hunting at once.

Fortunately my living expenses are paid in arears, so I can leave immediately if required.


You may want to search the EPSRC website, or check your PhD contract. I don’t know about EPSRC, but PPARC asks that you pay all the money that’s been paid to you in the course of your studentship if you fail to finish.

I didn’t think about looking at the EPSRC website, the upshot is:

"If you are not doing well and your conduct is considered unsatisfactory there is a possibility that you may be asked to withdraw from your studies (sometimes referred to as termination) or perhaps you may choose to leave yourself. If this were to happen, you should be allowed a reasonable period of notice, which may or may not include any unused leave entitlement.

However, you should bear in mind that you may be asked to repay money paid to you in advance for any period after the termination of your studies. If you feel that you are not doing well, the best thing to do is discuss it with your supervisor at an early stage. "

Which if I read it correctly implies that as they have not paid me in advance (except my fees) I am free to leave.

I think so Stryfe. We’ve recently had a withdrawal and there has been no mention of the guy repaying the money. The university will keep the residue of the doctoral training account and is planning to re-advertise. If they fail to find another candidate they will have to pay back what’s left.

From a job-hunting POV, I’d suggest you stay on and get your MPhil. Then you’ll at least have something to show for your time. Consider the following entries on your CV:

2004-2005 Gained MPhil at Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council


2004-2005 Incomplete PhD at Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

Unless, of course, you are taking a deliberate break, say to gain experience or earn some money - if memory serves, you have 7 years from the start of your PhD studies to submit your thesis.