The UK Government has announced that, starting in the 2021-22 academic year, international PhD students will be eligible for funding through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
This is extremely exciting news for international students, as it means that they’ll be able to apply for PhD studentships from the UK’s seven Research Councils. Previously, this support was only available to UK students (with EU students eligible to receive part of the funding).
Research Council studentships are one of the most generous funding options open to PhD students at UK universities and the biggest source of postgraduate funding in the country. They provide a tax-free, annual stipend of around £15,000, as well as a contribution to PhD tuition fees at the same level that home students would pay. Our guide to Research Council studentships has more detail on how it all works.
International students will be eligible in 2021-22 for both elements of the studentship. It’s worth bearing in mind that foreign nationals will still be liable to pay tuition fees at the international rate (rather than the cheaper ‘home’ rate paid by UK students). This means that the studentship won’t necessarily cover all of the tuition fees payable by international students. However, there is flexibility for students to find additional funding from elsewhere (our own guide to international PhD funding is a great place to start).
EU, EEA and Swiss nationals will be able to apply for Research Council funding on the same terms as international students, as of the 2021-22 academic year. Although this does mean that they’ll no longer be eligible to pay tuition fees at the lower home rate, European nationals will now be eligible for the stipend element of the PhD studentship (previously, they could only receive the tuition fee award).
UKRI will usually limit the proportion of international PhD students granted funding at 30% of the total number of doctoral training programmes. Also, this announcement is only applicable for new students (if you’ve already started a programme, you won’t be able to apply for additional funding).
For more information on the UK’s specialist Research Councils, you can read our dedicated guides below:
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