Student eligibility requirements

STFC does not make awards directly to students. Awards are made to eligible research training institutions (university departments, research institutes and other bodies) and they are responsible for selecting students for these awards who meet the STFC eligibility criteria. The two principal eligibility conditions relate to residence and to academic qualifications.

Heads of departments, prospective supervisors and potential students who require advice on eligibility should contact the RO Registrar’s Office, the postgraduate admissions office (or equivalent) at the RO hosting the studentship. STFC places full reliance on residential eligibility checks undertaken by the RO.

Final decisions on eligibility are made by ROs – questions about eligibility should be addressed to the RO directly.

A useful source of Information on Student Eligibility can be found on the UK Council for International Student Affairs webpages.

Key facts

Residence requirements

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

To be eligible for a full award 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 3 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.

Note: These eligibility criteria are based on the Education (Fees and Awards) (England) Regulations 2007 and subsequent amendments.


Minimum qualifications and experience to undertake a research degree are detailed in the QAA UK Quality Code for Higher Education.

For some subject areas, there is also an expectation that an individual will have undertaken a Masters qualification before beginning a doctoral programme. However, ROs can use their discretion in deciding whether candidates are suitable for research training, making reference to any Council-specific expectations.


Research Councils will undertake periodic reviews of Research Organisations within the Funding Assurance Programme (FAP) programme to seek assurance that Training Grants are managed in accordance with the terms and conditions under which they are awarded. These include the condition that the use of funding to provide full awards or fees-only awards should be in accordance with student eligibility as defined by the Council.


Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000