UKRI provides UK universities with grants – awarded through a competitive process – to cover the fees and living costs of postgraduate students. Each place a university offers as a result of this funding is called a studentship.
You will need to apply for a studentship through the research organisation – normally a university – where you want to study. UKRI-funded studentships are offered by many research organisations in the UK.
UKRI does not provide doctoral funding directly to students.
What you can get
UKRI studentships offer funding for doctoral research. They also offer you access to training, networking and development opportunities to help you build a research and innovation career.
You could get:
- support for your tuition fees (minimum £4,407 per year)
- a minimum ‘stipend’ of £15,285 per year for your living costs, which is paid to you in regular instalments.
The stipend is tax free and does not need to be paid back. Some research organisations may offer more if you study in London or they or one of their collaborators might decide to top up the payment – this will be outlined in the studentship advert from the research organisation.
Awards increase every year, typically with inflation. The levels given here are for 2020 to 2021.
Additional support for your doctoral studies
As a UKRI-funded doctoral student, you may be able to access additional funding to cover the cost of other related training and development opportunities.
This could include:
- conference attendance
- language training
- overseas research visits
- internships or placements with a non-academic partner.
The availability of support will depend on the research organisation and the training grants they have on offer. You should contact the research organisation you are interested in applying to, to find out what you could get.
Extra support if you have a disability
If you have a disability you may be entitled to a Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) on top of your studentship.
You should speak to your research organisation’s disability advisor to assess your needs. They can help put the right support in place, including a DSA application if necessary. You cannot claim DSA directly from UKRI.
DSA helps to cover the cost of any additional support that a person studying for a doctorate might need as a result of a disability, mental health problem or specific learning difficulty.
The allowance covers:
- non-medical personal assistance
- specialist equipment
- extra travel costs
- general expenses.
If you are a research organisation you can download claim forms for DSA:
Who can apply
Any prospective doctoral student wishing to study at a UK research organisation, including prospective international students, can apply for a UKRI studentship.
All UKRI-funded doctoral students will be eligible for the full award – both the stipend to support living costs, and fees at the UK research organisation rate.
This is a change in the criteria and will come into force for the start of the 2021 academic year.
How to find opportunities
Many UK research organisations offer some form of studentship funding from UKRI. These opportunities will depend on the subject you want to study.
UKRI supports around 20% of all UK-based postgraduate researchers. Research organisations may have additional opportunities that do not involve UKRI. You should speak to the research organisation you are interested in to find out what studentships are available.
You could also consider using a specialist website like FindaPhD to look for opportunities.
When to apply
Research organisations set their own deadlines for applications.
Many open for applications early in the academic year and close in January or February. This is not a hard and fast rule. It is important that you check the deadlines for the research organisation where you want to study.
How to apply
You cannot apply to UKRI for doctoral funding. You must contact the research organisation you are interested in studying with and use their application process.
For doctoral students who are already studying with a studentship, there are opportunities to get additional funding to support placements that are separate from your doctorate. Find training and development opportunities.
If you are a host institution you should use the updated guidance on EU and international eligibility (PDF, 168kb) and use the equalities impact assessment form (DOCX, 51kb).