Conference Travel & Research Visits

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

This guidance is based on the expense policies put forth by the University, School and UKRI to ensure spending of the CDT funds is reasonable and transparent. It is essential that you follow the procedures closely to avoid having to cover any expenses out of pocket.

If you need clarification on any procedures described below, please consult the CDT Coordinator before making any purchases.

A Funds Request Form (FRF) must be submitted PRIOR to making any travel arrangements. If you fail to obtain approval prior to the trip, your expenses will not be reimbursed.

Please note that the approval process may take up to 5 working days (or more in cases of staff absences), so it is advisable to submit your request as early as possible.

1. Complete the CDT Funds Request Form (NOTE: you either need to be connected to University network or VPN to access the form).

The form must include estimates of all costs for which you wish to be reimbursed. For guidance on what expenses you can and cannot claim, please read Reimbursement Restrictions below before filling out your request. If your trip expenses exceed the budget requested on the form, we cannot guarantee that the excess amount will be reimbursed. If you're not sure about the exact amounts it's better to quote higher estimates in the FRF.

2. Ask your supervisor to provide a brief explanation of the relevance/importance of this trip to your research project or training needs. The explanation can be pasted on the Funds Request Form or sent by your supervisor to the CDT Coordinator. 

3. We will be in touch to let you know if your travel request has been approved, or to ask for more information. Do not make any trip-related purchases until you receive the confirmation of approval.

Risk assessment should be completed by the student in consultation with the supervisor where appropriate.  Send the completed risk assessment form to the CDT Coordinator or Informatics H&S office:

Once your risk assessment is approved,   request University travel insurance via this form or send the approved risk assessment to the CDT Coordinator who can request the University travel insurance for you. 

Travel insurance is arranged in accordance with the University's Travel Insurance Policy and does NOT cover any days of personal travel. Please arrange your own insurance to cover any days of personal travel that you add to your conference/research trips.

All travel has to be booked via the university provider, Diversity Travel. In exceptional circumstances it may be possible for you to make bookings directly and get reimbursed, but this needs to be expressly authorised.

To make a booking via Diversity Travel:

1. If you haven’t booked travel before, register as a new travel booker. (this only needs to be done once)

2. Create an online Traveller Profile via the provider website. See video guidance here.

3. Make a booking yourself using the self-service portal. See video guidance here.


See also:

Booking travel FAQs

Sustainable Travel policy

Reimbursement restrictions

UKRI terms and conditions require that all travel expenses should evidence value for money as the primary consideration; please bear that in mind for all your travel arrangements.

See also: Claimant's Checklist for Expense Claims

What can be claimed?
  • Conference registration fees
  • Meals (reasonable, in relation to the location you are visiting, e.g. £10 for breakfast/lunch, £25 for dinner)
  • Poster printing, if you are presenting a poster
  • WiFi up to £5 per night for overnight stays in the UK and up to £10 per night for overnight stays outside the UK (proof of expense must be provided)
  • Costs of covering additional caring responsibilities, including childcare, beyond that required to meet the usual requirements of the studentship and which are directly related to the project.
What cannot be claimed?
  • Travel and accommodation costs for any bookings made directly, unless expressly authorised in advance (see Booking travel section above)
  • Alcohol
  • First class tickets
  • Any costs associated with personal days added to your trip
  • Any personal items such as travel adapters, throat lozenges, personal medicines, toothpaste, other travel toiletries
  • Keep itemised receipts of all your transactions, i.e. receipts listing each charge separately, not just a total amount.
  • Receipts are required for purchases of any amount, no matter how small.
Travel and accommodation bookings
All travel and accommodation must be booked through University's authorised supplier Diversity Travel.  Contact the CDT Coordinator to arrange travel bookings. Any travel booked directly without prior approval will not be reimbursed.
Foreign currency
  •  You will need to provide proof of your currency exchange rate. Keep your receipt when exchanging cash, or provide additional acceptable proof of exchange rates as specified in the instructions for completing Expense Claims.
Personal travel
  • If you plan to add days for personal travel to your trip or divert your travel to a different destination, you must note this on your Travel Request Form.
  • We can only reimburse you if you demonstrate that the travel option you choose is less expensive than the travel to and from a location near the event venue, on the day before and the day after the event. You must provide a screenshot/print-out demonstrating the travel option you selected is the same cost or cheaper; otherwise the expense will not be reimbursed.

To claim back expenses you must complete sections 1 to 3 of the Student Expenses Claim form and send it to your relevant CDT coordinator from your University email address.

When filling out the form, please ensure:

  • That all requested information is accurately provided.
  • Give a clear indication in your email of what budget you have been given permission to claim against e.g. CDT BMAI budget.
  • All required receipts and currency conversions (if applicable), which must be scanned and submitted as ONE (two at most) collated PDF document.  
    • Please do not submit an email request with many separate receipt attachments; the easier you make it for your Finance Administrator to review the submitted information, the quicker your request will be approved, processed and paid. 
    • Remember to retain original receipts if required by your funding body.
  • Include FRF or any other evidence that you received prior approval from the CDT to spend the funds against the budget.


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 you have made an application for an interruption if you are planning an Internship.
  • Insurance cover is not available through the University.