Skills & careers

Student eligibility requirements

The MRC relies on residential eligibility checks undertaken by the research organisation.  If you require advice on the eligibility of a student, you should contact your research organisation registrar's office.

Academic qualifications

Candidates for an MRC-funded studentship must hold qualifications in a relevant subject at the level of, or equivalent to, a good honours degree from a UK academic institution. This should be a first or upper second class honours degree. Qualifications (or a combination of qualifications and experience) which demonstrate equivalent ability and attainment should also be considered. For example, a less than sufficient first degree may be enhanced to meet the requirements by the acquisition of a Masters degree to enhance the first degree, e.g. from 2(ii) to 2(i).

It is the responsibility of the registering institution to verify that candidates possess the relevant qualifications. They are also responsible for ensuring that qualifications obtained outside the UK are of an equivalent level to those quoted above.

Residence requirements

Residence requirements are detailed in the Research Council UK (RCUK) conditions of research council training grants as follows:

For purposes of residence requirements the UK includes the United Kingdom and Islands.

To be eligible for a full award (stipend and university fees) a student must have:

  • Settled status in the UK, meaning they have no restrictions on how long they can stay.

  • Been ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK for three years prior to the start of the studentship. This means they must have been normally residing in the UK (apart from temporary or occasional absences).

  • Not been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education. (This does not apply to UK or EU nationals).

To be eligible for a fees only award:

  • Students from EU countries other than the UK are generally eligible for a fees-only award. To be eligible for a fees-only award, a student must be ordinarily resident in a member state of the EU, in the same way as UK students must be ordinarily resident in the UK.

Recruitment of international students

For all MRC-funded studentships, the research organisation must first take all reasonable steps to recruit a candidate who meets the residence requirements.  If this is not possible, then research councils have widened the residence eligibility criteria (PDF, 105KB)for studentships in key strategic areas to help meet employer’s needs.  For MRC, the 'scarce strategic skills' for which an exception may be considered include:

  1. Advanced mathematics, statistics and computational skills

  2. Physical and engineering sciences.

Quantitative and other skills that can be considered a routine part of UK undergraduate training in biological, biomedical and health sciences are not sufficient.

Approval for appointment of international students must be sought by the research organisation prior to appointing the student, as detailed below.

Conditions for approval:

  • The sought after skills must be critical to executing the PhD project and well-integrated with the students’ biomedical training and research.

  • The student project must be aligned with MRC’s strategic priorities and with the programme of training agreed between the research organisation and MRC.

  • The research organisation must be able to demonstrate:

  1. The demand for and career-destinations of previous PhD graduates in the relevant area (even if they were not MRC funded)

  2. Evidence of a shortage of high-quality UK candidates in relation to this demand

  • The research organisation must be able to demonstrate that it needs to use MRC funds for this purpose.

Research organisations are required to seek permission from MRC prior to appointing a candidate who does not meet the normal residence requirements. To seek permission, complete the application to recruit an international student form and email this to