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Well, put simply – a PhD studentship is a funded opportunity which is linked either to a specific research project (as in, it is only available to those PhD students working on that specific project) or one that is open to any applicants in a specified field or school. They are most commonly available through universities, rather than additional providers, but it is worth looking elsewhere too.
Generally, a PhD studentship will provide at least the full standard UK/EU PhD tuition fees, and will usually include a maintenance stipend as well. If the studentship is provided by a UK research council, the stipend will meet a nationally agreed minimum level. This level is such that you should be able to treat the PhD as a job and not have to pick up additional hours elsewhere. It won’t lead to extravagant living, but it should be more than enough to cover rent, food and necessary academic supplies. However, do make sure you double check if there are limits on what it can be spent on, because you don’t want to get caught out!
When do PhD studentships start?
Most studentships will start from the October, although there may also be some available in January too. Both of these start times have their advantages – in October, there will be more studentships available, but also more people applying, and in January, they will be less common, but there will be less applicants. If the studentship you are applying to is listed on the university page, check their rules on applying. Usually, you will find that applying for a position as a PhD student on the relevant project or with the relevant school will automatically count as an application for any relevant PhD studentships. Occasionally, you may have to keep an eye out for a tick box! However, if the studentship is being offered by a separate body, check the individual website for more details. In many cases, the studentship is being offered by a research body but is organised by the university, so it’s worth being extra careful when looking for information on these things.
Now, this is all well and good – but what if you’re an international student intending to study in the UK? Aren’t most of these things intended for UK students only?
PhD studentships for international students
If you’re looking for PhD Studentships in the UK for international students , you may find you have a bit more work on your hands. If you’re in the EU, you’ll want to check the policies on PhD studentships provided by the universities you’re applying to – some will be open to EU members, some may have limited places available, and others won’t have any. If they are open to EU members, then check if there is any additional paperwork required, for example they may need a copy of your passport or other documentation. Some universities will have, say, ten places than are all available to any UK/EU students, or some may split them up, for example eight for UK students and two for EU. It’s worth being aware of how the ones you’ve applied to works.
If you’re not in the EU – or your university of choice doesn’t offer studentships that you’re eligible for – then you’ll first want to look at providers in your own country. Organisations such as the Department of Education may well have some studentships available for those of you studying internationally. If not this, then the British Council have a few studentships available in various countries, so they are well worth contacting. Even if these organisations don’t have any available to offer, they are likely to know places that do.
In some cases, organisation such as the Wellcome Trust will offer studentships to those who studied their first degree in the UK, regardless of nationality, so if your undergraduate degree is from a UK university, check the criteria on these. They may say EU/EEA (European Economic Area) only, but occasionally they have sneaky clauses that may allow you in this way!
If you find studentships aren’t available for the country you’re from, worry not we have plenty of tips on funding and there are always PhD scholarships. You could always get a partial studentship and additional funding from charities too, so make sure you’re thorough in your search!
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