Find out about further study at university open days and postgraduate events.
Covering a wide range of disciplines including engineering and the environment, Research Councils are the main public investors in research in the UK
Research Councils UK is made up of seven grant-awarding bodies which offer funding for pretty much every area of academic activity at postgraduate level. Each year, approximately 6,000 studentships are awarded to universities by the Councils, so competition for awards is fierce and many applicants will struggle to secure funding.
The seven grant-awarding Research Councils are:
Look on the relevant Research Council website to see which universities have been awarded studentships for further information and advice.
Broadly, the criteria are that applicants must be an EU resident who has been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for three years preceding the application. This period includes time living in the UK while being a full-time student.
EU citizens who have not been resident in the UK for the required time period may be eligible for tuition fee funding through some organisations. Applicants should normally hold a first or 2:1 honours degree from a UK higher education institution, although there are some exceptions. Potential postgraduates who do not meet the criteria can sometimes still gain funding if they can demonstrate relevant work experience in their chosen field.
For UK students, a Research Council studentship means that you get your fees paid for and a cost of living grant (usually known as a stipend) which can be worth as much as £15,500 a year tax free, depending on where you are living.
The minimum stipend available for 2012/13 is £13,590. Higher stipends are sometimes offered to attract the strongest candidates to types of study which fall within recruitment priority areas. Additional funds may be available to disabled students to cover related costs through the Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA) fund.
Universities are expected to have suitable student recruitment procedures in place and to follow best practice on recruitment, selection and equal opportunities policy in order to identify and recruit students of outstanding achievement and potential from all backgrounds.
Applications must be submitted to university departments and not the Research Councils themselves. It is worth visiting the Research Councils' websites for information on how the whole process works. Lists of Research Council studentships are made public in early spring. When you're enquiring about postgraduate programmes, ask universities about the availability of Research Council funding in their departments and schools.
Don't be put off by the large numbers of people doing postgraduate study set against the relatively small amount of funding that's available because if you're studying a specialist subject, you're not necessarily competing with thousands of other people. It all depends on what you're studying and where.
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