Supporting skills and talent

The development of talented people, and their ideas and skills, is critical to the success of the UK research and innovation system. Our research and innovation workforce must be supported to have dynamic, diverse careers that drive societal and economic benefits.

Expectations for people support

Inspiring, supporting and developing the diversity of people who work, or aspire to work, in research and innovation is integral to good research practice.

There are strong interdependencies between support and training, as well as areas such as public engagement, research integrity, open research, and research culture.

We consider these aspects holistically to build an environment that enables all people to reach their potential.

That’s because people are key to a flourishing and interconnected research and innovation system. The training and support we provide recognises this driver of connectivity and empowers people to progress their careers and engage with different sectors.

Alongside our grant terms and conditions, we have set out the key expectations for supporting the people we fund.

UKRI policies and guidance

Supporting doctoral students

Doctoral training statement of expectations

Studentships supported on grants awarded through funding opportunities launched from 2024 onwards are subject to the statement of expectations for doctoral training.

Funding opportunities awarded prior to 2024 are subject to our statement of expectations for postgraduate training, published in 2016.

Doctoral recruitment guidance

The UKRI good practice principles in recruitment and training at a doctoral level set out considerations for training grant and covers four stages of recruitment and training.

The guidance builds on previous Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) guidance. It applies to the recruitment and training of doctoral students on all UKRI’s councils’ new funding opportunities (excluding quality related research funding) launched from 2024 onwards.

Research fellowships statement of expectations

Our statement of expectations for research fellowships and future research leaders (PDF, 44KB) clarifies our expectations of research organisations, research fellows and our councils for investing in and supporting the next generation of research leaders.

Technology and skills specialists statement of expectations

We also have the Research Councils UK statement of expectations for technology and skills specialists (PDF, 31KB), which continues to apply to technicians, their organisations and our councils.

AHRC early career researchers

AHRC has developed guidance on training and developing early career researchers in the arts and humanities, which aims to support early career researchers to develop their careers within and beyond academia. Read AHRC’s guidance to understand how you can support early career researchers.

MRC clinical academic researchers

MRC supports the development of clinical academic researchers and is a signatory to the cross-sector UK clinical academic training in medicine and dentistry: principles and obligations and UK clinical academic training for nurses, midwives, AHPs and other health and care professionals: principles and obligations. UK institutions and clinical trainees in receipt of MRC funding for clinical academic research training are expected to comply with these frameworks.

UKRI terms and conditions

If you receive funding from UKRI you need to follow general terms and conditions for research grants or training funding, and any specific funding opportunity conditions.

Concordats UKRI has signed

UKRI is signatory to the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers. The concordat is a framework co-created in consultation with the sector, providing a consensus view of the support and development needs of researchers.

It sets out obligations for research funders, employers, line managers and researchers themselves to support the professional and career development of researchers in a higher education environment.

Organisations receiving UKRI funding are expected to adopt the principles of the concordat to support the career development of researchers, and must create an environment in which research staff are selected and treated on the basis of their merits, abilities and potential.

Find our more about the concordat.

UKRI is also signatory to the Technician Commitment, which is a cross-sector initiative to improve the visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability of technical careers in higher education.

We are a signatory to the commitment, which is our pledge to address key challenges and champion technicians.

Find out more about the Technician Commitment.

Our UKRI people and teams action plan sets out how we will implement the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and Technician Commitment across our role as a research funder, employer and policy organisation.

Read the UKRI people and teams action plan.

AHRC has recently published a statement of commitment to the concordat, outlining the specific actions it will take to support researchers in the arts and humanities.

Read AHRC’s statement of commitment to the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers.

MRC Harwell and STFC have developed additional action plans to support the technicians UKRI employs at these sites:

External guidance

The UKRI and Research England-funded TALENT programme has launched The TALENT Commission report, which has gathered new strategic insights into the UK’s technical workforce in higher education and research (published 1 February 2022).

The report sets out a vision for the future of the UK’s technical talent and includes 16 overarching recommendations to guide delivery of this vision, as well as a series of targeted recommendations for specific stakeholder groups.

Read the TALENT Commission’s report.

UKRI is a supporter of team science, which leverages the diverse strengths and expertise of all members of cross-disciplinary and multidisciplinary teams to realise the impact and societal benefit of our investment.

Team science is a recognised term in the sector, and we explicitly acknowledge the importance of our arts, humanities and social sciences teams to the generation and dissemination of new knowledge.

What is Team Science? describes a cross-disciplinary approach in which team members with training and expertise in different fields work together to address a research challenge.

The Academy of Medical Sciences has also published a report on the importance of rewarding and recognising individual contributions when working as part of a team.

What UKRI is doing in skills and talent

We continue to implement our action plans as part of the wider UKRI strategy and the government’s Research and Development People and Culture Strategy. As part of these strategies, we have launched a programme to develop a ‘new deal for postgraduate research’.

Read about the new deal for postgraduate research.

As part of our budget allocation we will transition to working in a collective manner across £2 billion of talent initiatives, covering studentships and fellowships, building on our strong track record in working across research council remits.

This will allow us to harmonise further our talent investments to reduce bureaucracy, and to make it more efficient and easier to work across disciplines and across the research and innovation system, including the private, public and third sectors.

Read our budget allocation explainer and blog outlining the transition to collective talent funding.

If you have any questions or would like to engage with us on this area, please contact:


Last updated: 30 January 2024

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