International students will now be able to apply for postgraduate funding from UK research councils in a move designed to attract global talent to a post-Brexit Britain.
The changes apply to courses starting in September 2021, and include scholarships that comprise assistance with living costs and fees equivalent to those charged to domestic students.
The funding was previously only available to those from the UK, European Union, European Economic Area, and Switzerland.
In a statement, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) said: “The updated eligibility criteria will ensure that the UK, which is a world leader in research and innovation, is able to attract talent from around the globe. International PhD students play a valuable part in the UK’s research system, contributing skills, ideas and networks.
“As a public funder, UK Research and Innovation has a responsibility to develop both domestic research and innovation talent alongside opening recruitment to attract the best international talent into the UK.”
The decision reflects a need for UKRI funding to shift its focus away from European talent as the UK navigates its exit from the EU.
However, UKRI say that the total proportion of international students given access to this funding through doctoral programmes will “usually” be capped at 30 per cent each year.
Science Minister Amanda Solloway said:
“International PhD students are invaluable to supporting our world-leading research across a range of disciplines, providing new energy, ideas, and creativity. I am delighted that they will now be eligible for UKRI-funded PhDs in the UK.
“Through our ambitious R&D Roadmap, we want to make it easier for top global science, research and innovation talent to come to the country so we can cement the UK as a science superpower. Today’s measure is a key part of that.”