Student Qualifying and Eligibility Requirements
2. PLEASE NOTE THAT RESEARCH ORGANISATIONS NO LONGER NEED TO PROVIDE THE MRC WITHANOMINATION FORM FOR THEIR STUDENTS. HOWEVER, IT IS EXPECTED THAT STUDENTS AWARDED MRC FUNDING MEET THE ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA AS STATED BELOW. PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT THE MRC DIRECTLY TO ENQUIRE ABOUT ELIGIBILITY; IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE NOMINATED PERSON AT THE UNIVERSITY TO CONTACT MRC IF ADVICE ON ELIGIBILITY IS REQUIRED.
2.1 Academic Qualifications
Candidates for studentships must hold qualifications at the level of, or equivalent to, a good honours degree from a UK academic institution, in a subject relevant to MRC’s scientific remit. This should be a first or upper second class honours degree. Qualifications, or a combination of qualifications and experience, which demonstrate equivalent ability and attainment should also be considered. For example, a less than sufficient first degree may be enhanced to meet the requirements by the acquisition of a Masters degree to enhance the first degree, e.g. from 2(ii) to 2(i).
It is the responsibility of the registering institution to verify that candidates possess the relevant qualifications. They are also responsible for ensuring that qualifications obtained outside the UK are of an equivalent level to those quoted above.
2.2 Residence Eligibility
As a general "rule" anyone who has been eligible for an LEA grant for their undergraduate study would probably be eligible for an MRC funded studentship award.
Heads of Department, supervisors and potential students needing advice on residence eligibility should contact the Research Organisation Registrar's Office in the first instance. Where there is doubt about an individual's eligibility for an MRC Studentship, the Registrar should then contact the Studentships Section at the MRC for a ruling. Whilst general advice can be given over the telephone, a formal ruling cannot be given without full written details on an MRC Eligibility Form which is available from the MRC website
2.3 UK Residence
To be eligible for a full MRC studentship (stipend and university fees), candidates must be able to demonstrate a relevant connection1 to the United Kingdom at the date of application.
- UK nationals who have lived most of their lives in the UK will have demonstrated a relevant connection.
- Individuals who were not born in the UK but have been granted UK citizenship or have come to settle in the UK (e.g. immigrant status, refugee or an individual granted humanitarian protection) need to demonstrate that they have a relevant connection through ordinary residence. 2
- European Economic Area3 citizens who are migrant workers4 (or their spouse or children) and can demonstrate ordinary residence in the EEA are eligible.
- EU nationals who have spent the three years prior to application resident in the UK (this can include residence while undertaking undergraduate study)
- A relevant connection can be established if an individual has been ordinarily resident in the UK throughout the 3 years preceding the date of application. Candidates may be classed as demonstrating ordinary residence when they are temporarily absent overseas (see below) where the nature of their profession demands that they spend periods overseas (e.g. research) or have been receiving full-time education overseas.
- Lord Scarman defined ordinary residence as "habitual and normal...from choice and for a settled purpose throughout the prescribed period, apart from temporary or occasional absence" "...voluntarily adopted...." "there must be some degree of settled purpose (and) a sufficient degree of continuity to be properly described as settled". Ordinary residence is proven if a candidate would have been in the UK (or EEA) if it were not for the fact that s/he, his/her spouse, parent or guardian is/was temporarily employed outside of the area.
- European Economic Area means the areas comprised by the member states of the European Community (currently Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Eire, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and UK) and by the Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
- An EEA migrant worker can be defined (for these purposes) as a citizen of a member state of the EEA who is employed in the UK and who should be treated as a national of the UK. The employment of an EEA migrant worker can be full-time or part-time but must be relevant to the candidate"s previous or future training. Candidate"s employed in part-time or short-term casual employment or who are effectively unemployed cannot be considered to hold migrant worker status.
The European Economic Area is constantly growing; member countries should be checked
2.4 Visa/Work Permits
Candidates who are resident in the UK on a student visa, work permit or dependent visa which have restrictions on the time they may stay in the UK, and cannot demonstrate a relevant connection or settled status will not be eligible on residence grounds.
2.5 Residents of Northern Ireland
If the student is normally resident in Northern Ireland and can meet the eligibility requirements in the same way as described for residence in the UK, they can be considered for a full MRC Studentship award (maintenance stipend plus fees).
2.6 Nationals of European Economic Area (EEA) Member States
A migrant worker, or the child of a migrant worker, is eligible for a full MRC award (maintenance stipend plus fees) if they are employed in the UK at the time the application is made, and are either:
- An EU national and would have a relevant connection to the European Union; or,
- A national of a member state of the European Economic Area (EEA) not in the EU e.g.- Iceland, Norway, Switzerland or Liechtenstein - and would have a relevant connection in the EEA.
2.7 Nationals of the European Union
If a student is from an EU country, but cannot demonstrate a relevant connection through ordinary residence, they may be eligible for a studentship for tuition fees, but not for a maintenance stipend.
2.8 Nationals of the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man
Candidates from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man are not normally eligible for an MRC Studentship and should apply to their respective education authorities for support:
- Jersey Education Committee, Grants Department, Education Department, P O Box 142, St Saviour, Jersey, Channel Islands, JE4 8QJ (Telephone 01534 509500) or Guernsey Education Council, Grange Road, St Peter Port, Guernsey, GY1 1RQ (Telephone 01481 710821).
- The Isle of Man Education Department, St George's Court, Upper Church Street, Douglas, Isle of Man, IMI 2SG (Telephone: 01624 685820).
A candidate from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man will not have established eligibility for consideration for an MRC Studentship through any period of ordinary residence in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland during which s/he has been in full-time education.
This relates to the tax status of an individual or their parents, if no tax is received from residents of the Channel Islands and Isle of Man then they are not eligible for certain benefits. As tax is paid in the Islands it is these Islands that are responsible for the education costs of their subjects.