“We believe that internships are an important opportunity for the next generation of Physics researchers to gain valuable research experience on which to ground their academic careers.” “We are taking an organisation-wide approach to evolve and amend guidance relating to vacation placements and are in the process of moving from using tax-free stipends to wages to reflect guidance from HMRC. Fernando told Cherwell: “UKRI are not currently requiring universities to pay the mini- mum wage to summer interns on the basis that these are not ’salaries’ and they are not ‘doing jobs’, but rather are getting ‘bursaries’ for ’training’. A spokesperson for UKRI told Cherwell: “The funding provided by UKRI research councils enables universities to support students during vacation placements, which are intended to inspire students to consider a career in research and innovation. “I think it’s essential that these internships pay fairly as else they are restricting applicants to those already in Oxford.” This controversy arises from the ambiguousnature of internships in British law. Employersonly have to pay the National Minimum Wage“if an intern is classed as a worker”, but “workplacements” and “work experience” do nothave their own legal statuses. Interns expressed frustration that theirwages drained their savings or did not covertheir daily costs. The City Council sets theliving wage at £358.53 for a 37-hour work weekwith it said to rise to £370.74 in April. “We are working with our training partners to address outstanding issues we are now aware of. This includes work to ensure that students on vacation placements are paid at least the national living wage.” MPLS Head of Strategic Planning and Projects Keri Dexter commented: “The UKRI summer schemes for undergraduates are offered as placements, rather than internships, meaning the minimum wage regulations donot formally apply.” MPLS’s Keri Dexter said, “MPLS endorses the goal of ensuring that students on placements are supported at a rate equivalent to the living wage. # Interns have been found to have received aslittle as £200 per week. The internship schemeattracts second- and third-year students fromacross the U.K interested in pursuing Ph.D.-level research. The Department of Physics’ Head of Administration Nicole Small stated: “The Department of Physics follows University guidance, which in turn is based on employment law. We consider that our advertised internships are an employment relationship and accordingly we pay the Oxford living wage.” We have taken action to ensure that students on [Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council]-funded placements in Oxford will receive this level of support for a 37 hour working week in summer 2019 by drawing additional funds from other EPSRC training grants. One MPLS intern told Cherwell, “I think it’sfairly obvious that that wage isn’t enough toallow a student to move to and live in Oxford,especially for only 8 weeks.” Undergraduates interning in the University of Oxford’s Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division last summer were paid below the minimum wage, Cherwell has learnt. Concerns with intern pay was first raised last year when Student Union MPLS Graduate Representative Ben Fernando complained to the MPLS Board, as well as raising concerns with former Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Sam Gyimah before his resignation. Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Chris Skidmore was contacted for comment.