Conference Travel & Research Visits

This information is relevant to students in the Data Science and Robotics & Autonomous Systems CDT programmes.

Travel Requests for Conferences & Research Visits

Students must obtain approval and a support statement from their Supervisor in order to travel to a conference or visit an academic institute (even if the visit was previously approved in your PhD Proposal Budget).   It is unlikely that travel by first year students will be required unless specifically suited to their PhD; this will necessitate prior authorisation by the Director or Co-Director.  Funds made available for CDT students to attend conferences, summer schools, workshops, etc, require your full attendance at the respective event.

A Funds Request Form (FRF) must be submitted prior to the travel taking place.

Please note:

Failure to submit this request prior to travel may result in your expenses not being reimbursed.  [If you are in receipt of an industry/other research grant funding, please liaise with your Supervisor for conference/travel authorisation procedures.]

The Funds Request Form should be completed and submitted as early as possible even if it is contingent on external decisions being made (eg Visa approvals, acceptance from Conference Registrations, etc).

CDT funds request form

NOTE: DICE Login required to submit the form. If you have trouble accessing the form please contact Informatics computing support:

Informatics computing support request form

The  FRF form will request the following information:

  1. Name of conference or academic institute you wish to attend (plus conference website if applicable).
  2. Dates of conference/research visit (plus travel dates for any travel required before/after the start/finish of the conference).
  3. Purpose of the conference/research visit with a brief statement about why you wish to attend/visit.
  4. Whether or not you will be presenting your work and/or a poster at the conference, if applicable. (Please note: After the 1st year of your PhD it is expected that presentations will be given at all conferences attended; approval for attendance without presentation will be rare and will require specific justification from the supervisor.).
  5.  You will need to get a statement of support from your Supervisor and copy and paste this into the appropriate section.
  6. A travel budget with a full breakdown of estimated expenses (conference registration fees, travel, visa charges, accommodation, meals...) based on the most economical form of transport (eg train, flight/economy class) and accommodation (which should be shared with other students, where possible).
  7. Date by which a response is required.
  8. The form should be submitted well in advance of any proposed travel - even if you are not yet sure you will be accepted for a conference, etc*.


We will be in touch to let you know if your travel request has been approved or to ask for more information, so no expenditure should be incurred until you hear from your Administrator.

Please ensure you have activated a Leave of absence if your trip is more than two weeks in duration or includes any personal travel leave.

* Note that if your travel is dependent on acceptance of your submitted materials, e.g. for a submission to a competitive conference, and you want to be able to act quickly once you learn of the acceptance, you should submit your travel request in advance.  In this case, specify that you will only attend if your presentation is accepted and be sure not to spend any money against the approved budget until you know that you have been accepted.  If subsequently, you do not attend you will need to advise your CDT Administrator who will amend their records for your funds accordingly.

Booking Accommodation/Travel

No bookings should be made until you have received approval for your Funds Request Form from the CDT.


Once you have been given approval by the CDT, you may book your accommodation.  (You may wish to hold off making a confirmed booking until your flight has been booked just in case there are any issues with regards to seat availability on the date/s you wish to travel.)

  • All hotel bookings over £300 will require a comparative quote to be sourced by your Administrator from Key Travel (the UoE’s nominated travel supplier). 
  • Hostel stays or Airbnb bookings can be booked directly by you provided they are cheaper than a hotel booking – even if over £300.


Before booking your journey:

  • All flights/travel over £300 will need comparison quotes that your Administrator will source from Key Travel (the UoE’s nominated travel supplier).
  • When sourcing costs for flights/travel below £300, to include on your Funds Request Form, please save evidence of the two most competitive quotes for your journey, in case proof is required.
  • Once you have received authorisation back from your Administrator, you can then book the cheapest form of travel.
  • Should the price you sourced increase in the meantime, it may still be acceptable for you to progress with your booking on the basis that the increase is minimal - discuss this with your Administrator.
  • Please give due consideration to your carbon footprint and bear in mind that often train will be the cheapest form of transport (and sometimes the quickest!) both within the UK and to the continent:

Remember: if you have to pay for either of the above in a foreign currency, please take a screenshot of the currency conversion rate for that day so that you can submit it along with your Expense Claim.  Alternatively, please provide a copy of any evidence (bank statement, etc) to show any charges your bank might impose for trading in a different currency.

Travel Insurance

  • You should check the Foreign & Commonwealth website for information about travelling to your proposed destination/s as, if deemed high-risk by them, a Risk Assessment will be required by the UoE travel insurance team, which may also incur a small charge.  Your CDT Administrator will help you prepare your Risk Assessment.
  • Once your Funds Request Form has been approved (as explained above), your CDT Administrator will request travel insurance on your behalf.  If you have any relevant medical conditions, please mark "yes" on the Funds Request Form but do not include details as the travel insurance company will contact you directly, if required.  In the event of any pre-existing conditions/treatment, you should not travel against the wishes of your GP/Consultant and you should ensure you take adequate supplies of any medication with you on the trip. The Travel Insurance Form will be submitted on your behalf.
  • Travel insurance is arranged in accordance with the University's travel insurance policy.
  • Travel insurance must be requested for all trips (except internships) whether the UK or overseas no matter their duration ie. also for day trips.
  • Please note that insurance cover is no longer available for any personal travel element of programme-related trips. 

Claiming for Conference /Research Visit Expenses

  • Please familiarise yourself with the School's protocols on Expenses as soon as possible and before you plan any trips.
  • Upon returning from your travel please complete an Expense Claim Form and submit it to your CDT Administrator in the Informatics Forum, as soon as possible, and within three months of the date of the claim.

Expense Claim Form

  • Only original itemised receipts will be accepted for payment, as per the University's Finance policy.
  • All claims should be submitted in Pounds Sterling, along with a printout of the exchange rate you have used (for foreign-currency transactions). For instance, you can look up the exchange rate for the date of the transaction using OANDA or, or you can provide a copy of your bank statement showing the exchange rate, with personal information blacked out.
  • The most economical accommodation and travel should be used at all times. Students are expected to share accommodation whenever possible. You should also book as early as possible to avoid increased charges. This is a restriction set by the University as well as our funding agency. If you require assistance in booking travel and accommodation please contact your CDT Administrator as soon as possible.
  • Students are expected to share accommodation wherever possible. Please inform your CDT Administrator of your travel plans as early as possible so that the CDT administrators can let you know if other students are travelling to the same destination and help you set up such sharing arrangements.
  • Whenever possible, CDT students travelling together to conferences should pay for their own expenses and make their own claims. When this is not possible and you have paid for others while travelling, please include the names of the people for whom you paid.
  • Expense claims for meals should only be claimed if not included with the conference during your travel.  Only moderately priced meals will be covered, and only for clearly travel-related reasons; e.g., meals will not be reimbursable for long trips (10 days or more) except during periods of actual relocation at the beginning and end of the trip. If any additional days are added on as holidays, food is not covered by the CDTs.  Food for partners travelling with you is not to be claimed as we are unable to reimburse you for this.  If there are items on the receipt you are not claiming for, please cross this out to expedite the expenses processing.

  • If your request for reimbursement is above your original proposed budget request in the Funds Request Form you will need to justify the difference and we cannot guarantee the non-approved amount will be reimbursed.  Approval of your Funds Request  Form (which must contain a statement of support from your Supervisor) must be received before you travel or we cannot guarantee reimbursement.
  • We are unable to reimburse you for personal items such as travel adapters, throat lozenges, personal medicines, toothpaste, other travel toiletries, and so on. These items should be purchased using your stipends and should not be listed on your claim form.
  • It may be possible to add on personal travel time before or after your trip with any additional cost being borne by yourself.  This includes any increase to the cost of flights as a consequence of you travelling on a different date/flight.  In this case, you will need to provide evidence of what the cost of the flight for the 'business' trip would have been if no personal travel were being taken.
  • Funds made available for CDT students to attend conferences, summer schools, workshops, etc, require your full attendance at the respective event.

If you have any queries related to payment or reimbursement of Conference Travel Expenses, please contact your CDT Administrator using the Internal Inquiries form.

Internal Inquiries: CGI

Long-Term Travel Policy

  • While in Edinburgh, students are normally expected to pay for their subsistence, local travel (e.g. buses), and accommodation out of their own stipend.  Similarly, for a trip away from Edinburgh of 10 days duration or more, the CDT can only cover subsistence and local transportation for the first few days at the start and end of the trip, i.e. during the periods when you are actually relocating and unable to prepare meals in the usual way. Accommodation costs for long trips will be reimbursed as follows, depending on the duration:
    • 10 days-1 month: Accommodation costs will be reimbursed in full, as long as the most economical type of available accommodation is used.
    • 1-6 months: Students should try to sublet or move out of their accommodation whenever possible, but where such subletting or moving out is not feasible (e.g. due to the lease contract, or because of the timing of the visit), the cost of long-term accommodation at the visit site will be reimbursed at 50%.
    • 6 months or more: Only brief hotel/hostel stays at the beginning and end of travel will be reimbursed; long-term accommodation costs should be paid from the stipend just as in Edinburgh. You are expected to sublet or move out of your Edinburgh accommodation, and to arrange the timing of such visits to make this practical.
  • It is a good idea to discuss accommodation options with your host very early, as some Universities have student housing that can be made available, or you may be able to schedule your arrival during a period when student accommodation is available at a low cost.
  • Insurance should always be arranged for these visits through the University Travel Insurance policy and should be organised through your CDT Administrator


  • Please ensure that your Supervisor has made an application for an interruption if you are planning an Internship.
  • Insurance cover is not available through the University.