27 September 2023

ITN: An ITN project got an extension and its final conference is postponed by 10 months. The employment contracts of most of the early-stage researchers recruited within the project have already finished. Do they have contractual obligations to attend and co-organise the final project conference?

The only document that links the early-stage researchers to the beneficiaries are their employment contracts. If these contracts don’t mention attending and co-organising the final project conference, the researchers do not have any obligations. The Project Officer should be contacted to discuss moving the conference or organising it online.

24 August 2023

ITN: What should be done if a host organisation, part of an ITN project, is facing financial difficulties which may affect the doctoral candidate’s fellowship and payments each month?

In such situation the fellow should discuss this issue with the coordinator of the project and the coordinator should try and find a solution together with the Project Officer of the project. It could be that this organisation might leave the project. In such a case, there are a few possibilities, such as: a transfer of the fellow (and associated person-months) to another partner or the organisation can be replaced by a new partner which will hire the doctoral researcher.

ITN: A fellow has not received their salary for a while. What can they do to reclaim their allowance?

The relation between the fellow and the host organisation is regulated by the type of work contract signed between the two parties for the implementation of the ITN project and as such, falls under the legal framework of the country where the contract had been concluded.

If the organisation does not pay these amounts to the fellow, it will not be entitled to claim the units related to the cost of recruitment of the fellow for the period in question. This should be worked through with the REA Project Officer. If the Project Officer finds enough evidence that the work on the project was correctly delivered (although with a temporary breach of Article 32 in terms of salary payments to the fellow), they might consider it is more beneficial to reimburse the organisation so that it could rectify their payments towards the fellow.

However, if the host organisation finally pays the fellow even with 5 months’ delay, it still respects the Grant Agreement.

The coordinator should check if there are any procedures planned in the Consortium Agreement for such cases.

RISE: Is working part-time during secondments in H2020 RISE projects allowed?

The 2020 MSCA RISE Guide for applicants, on p. 18 of 75, states “Note that all secondments must be performed on a full-time basis.” In addition, the H2020 AMGA on both p. 528 and p. 529 states “The beneficiaries must respect the following recruitment and working conditions for the seconded staff member under the action: … ensure that the staff members are seconded full-time”. For part-time staff members this may require a change of their relationship (i.e. conclude a contract or a supplementary agreement), to allow the secondment to be implemented on a full-time basis.

07 August 2023

ITN: In a European Joint Doctorates project is it mandatory to obtain the PhD diploma by the end of the project?

It is not mandatory for the MSCA fellows to defend their thesis or to obtain their PhD single, double, joint or multiple degree in the frame of the ITN project.  

18 July 2023

IF: What documents are required from MSCA Individual Fellowships beneficiaries for final reporting on their Horizon 2020 projects?

In general, the Final Technical Report is a publishable summary of the entire project:

        - overview of the results and their exploitation and dissemination,

        conclusions on the project,

        - its socio-economic impact of the project,

        - an up-to-date link to the project website,

        - project logos, diagrams, photographs and videos illustrating its work (if available).

Like the summaries for the periodic reports, the final summary must be written in an understandable style for a non-specialist audience.

29 May 2023

IF: What should a postdoctoral fellow with an Individual Fellowship need to do if they want to terminate their working contract with the host institution a month earlier than the project’s end date?

Please make sure the host institution:

  1. Requests the (early) termination of the grant agreement, based on its art.50 (on page 330).
  2. This is done via “formal notification” – the host institution will need to pick the notification on grant termination.
  3. Art. 50 requires the reasons – this would be an early termination of the fellowship (upon fellow’s request – please be specific – has the fellow resigned?).
  4. Art. 50 requires the date the termination will take effect on – this will be the last day of the fellowship, i.e. the last day the fellow legally worked (last day of their employment contract).

Only once the termination is acknowledged by the Research Executive Agency, the project data in the system will be rectified and the new dates for final reporting etc., will appear.

10 May 2023

IF: What is the Beneficiary Termination Report under the Individual Fellowships in H2020? Is it completed when the fellow is transferred to a new host institution? Who needs to sign it?

The H2020 Annotated Model Grant Agreement, on p.504, details that both supervisor and fellow must give their version of events when asking for the amendment.

The Beneficiary Termination Report is submitted by the beneficiary whenever the institution terminates the grant agreement earlier than initially foreseen in the Grant agreement. It creates the situation when the institution needs somehow to report to the Research Executive Agency before the usual periodic reporting is required for the project. It can happen when the former Individual Fellowship host institution (X) terminates the grant agreement and the grant agreement is transferred to a new Individual Fellowship host institution (Y).

The institution X first and foremost needs to submit the financial statement (form C) for the period they were active on the project. The Beneficiary Termination Report is a supporting document (technical report) to that financial statement. Just like the usual Periodic Report is a supporting document to the periodic Financial Statement. In that sense it is the institution X that is responsible for its preparation, delivery and signature, not the hosted researcher.

Everything else works exactly the same as for any other periodic report, except that once the Report is approved by the Research Executive Agency, the institution X is obliged to transfer the remainder of the funds to the institution Y.

More information can be found at the “Report About Beneficiary Termination” section here.

18 April 2023

ITN/ COFUND: What is the appeal procedure in case a researcher wishes to make an appeal against the decision to be excluded from the selection process for a doctoral position?

In a COFUND programme, there should be a clear appeal procedure explained on the programme website, together with the call for candidates.

In case of an ITN project, it depends on the procedures that have been put in place for that in this concrete ITN. The doctoral candidate can contact the selection committee and ask about the existing appeal procedure.

06 February 2023

All actions: Is it possible to request part-time working less than 50% FTE for personal/ family reasons in H2020?

The requirement to dedicate at least 50% of the working time to the action for both professional and personal reasons was outlined in the MSCA H2020 Work Programme 2018-2020 on p.95 “In cases of part-time work, all researchers must dedicate at least 50% of their working time to the MSCA action, whether they are working part-time for family or other reasons”. When it comes to parental leave, it falls under personal or family reasons. However, the fellow would still have to dedicate at least 50% of the working time to the project.