What Does The UK Re-Joining Horizon Europe Mean for PhD Students? | FindAPhD.com

What Does The UK Re-Joining Horizon Europe Mean for PhD Students?

Good news for universities, scientists and researchers in the UK – the government recently announced that it has secured a deal to re-join the EU’s flagship funding programme for scientific innovation, Horizon Europe.

The scheme has £81 billion (€95 billion) available in funding, which UK-based institutions and researchers are now able to apply for.

The UK has been unable to access Horizon funding since it’s exit from the EU in 2020 but is now guaranteed associated membership of the programme until 2027.

We’ve explained what this means for PhD students!

A wider choice of funded projects to apply for

Though PhD students can’t apply for Horizon funding directly, universities, research consortia and occasionally individual academics can, meaning there is likely to be an increase in the number of fully-funded science PhD projects up for grabs!

Horizon funding is available in a broad range of areas, covering most domains of frontier research into scientific problems. Applicants can use grants to set up PhD projects and recruit larger numbers of students to their research teams. This means that PhD students can expect funded opportunities in STEM subjects to increase (keep an eye on our project finder!).

International collaboration and mobility

Many research consortia that apply for Horizon funding are formed by institutions from a mixture of different European countries. In fact, for some transnational projects, there will need to be a minimum of three participating countries.

This means that PhD students working on such projects will have more opportunities to collaborate with international researchers, and possibly travel overseas as part of their programme.

Will the UK have all the same rights as EU member countries?

Under the deal, the UK will gain Associated Country status. This gives UK applicants almost all the same advantages as those from EU countries. There are a couple of small exceptions – the UK will not be able to access the European Innovation Council (EIC) Fund, which finances EU research related to climate action. There may also be cases where at least one EU member country is required to set up a consortium, in which case the UK would not be eligible to apply for funding unless collaborating with an EU member country.

However, from a PhD student’s point of view, none of these caveats shouldn’t make much difference – all you need to know is that there are likely to be more research opportunities coming your way!


We’ll keep you informed on any updates related to Horizon Europe going forward, as well as other PhD-related news stories.

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Last Updated: 14 September 2023