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REA 2021 survey on COVID-19 impact - outcomes

The European Research Executive Agency (REA) launched a COVID-19 questionnaire in late January 2021 to learn more about the difficulties that the institutions managing MSCA projects have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey also aimed to find out whether the measures taken so far by the European Commission (EC) and REA have been sufficient  to ensure appropriate support in any similar future situations.

This questionnaire is part of REA’s commitment to continuous engagement with the project coordinators and beneficiaries in the framework of the project monitoring process.

By 23 February 2021, 2548 beneficiaries had replied to the questionnaire.

Flexibility measures

Overall, the findings in the questionnaire demonstrate very positive outcomes. The vast majority of responses suggest that the proposed flexibility measures were correct, appropriate and effective, and for the large part, the respondents were able to make use of these measures under the current restrictions and constraints.

The majority of beneficiaries (88%) also had a very positive view of  the fact that the MSCA researchers in COFUND, ITN and IF could be fully paid, even if they could not work in the host institution premises. The great majority of respondents (88%) considered as the extended flexibility in terms of the project deliverables, milestones and reports to be very appropriate.

Additional support

While most beneficiaries (91%) were unable to find additional financial resources to support the MSCA fellows beyond the duration of their fellowship, a small number were able to do so. However, in most cases it was for a very short period (between 1 and 3 months) or it was a small financial contribution.

Most of the respondents (73%) believe that the MSCA researchers were treated the same as their local researchers. A very small proportion (9%) noted that MSCA researchers were treated less favourably, due to fewer possibilities to access additional national funding, to access some special institutional premises or due to the impact of loneliness during the lockdown.

Communication

Most respondents (63%) noted that communication on flexibility measures was timely and that REA project officers were very supportive. Nonetheless, respondents also pointed to some weaknesses and indicated that there is some room for improvement from the side of REA, MSCA National Contact Points (MSCA NCPs) and coordinators.

To address these weaknesses, REA project officers will enhance the exchanges with MSCA coordinators and REA’s online communication channels will be improved to also reach out to all the other beneficiaries and individual researchers. This will ensure that the necessary information can reach all the parties involved in the MSCA projects without delay.

Moreover, REA and the EC will ensure that the support available by MSCA NCPs and the FAQs published on the Funding and Tenders Portal are promoted more effectively.

Read more

Follow the link to the website of the European Research Executive Agency (REA) to see the full results of the COVID-19 survey.