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Skills & careers

Student eligibility requirements

The MRC relies on residential eligibility checks undertaken by the research organisation.  If you require advice on the eligibility of a student, you should contact your research organisation registrar's office.

Academic qualifications

Minimum qualifications and experience to undertake a research degree are detailed in the QAA UK Quality 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. It is the responsibility of the registering institution to determine if candidates possess the relevant qualifications and/or experience to demonstrate a capability to undertake a doctorate. They are also responsible for ensuring that qualifications obtained outside the UK are of an equivalent level.

Residence requirements

Residence requirements are detailed in the conditions of research council training grants.

Recruitment of international students

For all MRC-funded studentships, the research organisation must first take all reasonable steps to recruit a candidate who meets the above residence requirements. If this is not possible, then research councils have widened the residence eligibility criteria for studentships in key strategic areas to help meet employer’s needs. For MRC, the 'scarce strategic skills' for which an exception may be considered include:

  1. Quantitative skills (mathematics, statistics, computation, developing digital excellence) as applied to variety of data sources (from ‘omics’ to health records)
  2. Interdisciplinary skills (at all interfaces including chemical/physical/engineering, social/economical and clinical, including for example imaging, health economics, antimicrobial resistance and translational medicine).
  3. Whole organism physiology (including in vivo training)


Quantitative and other skills that can be considered a routine part of UK undergraduate training in biological, biomedical and health sciences are not sufficient.

Approval to advertise for international students must be sought by the research organisation prior to appointing the student, as detailed below.

Conditions for approval:

  • The sought after skills must be critical to executing the PhD project and well-integrated with the students’ biomedical training and research.
  • The student project must be aligned with MRC’s strategic priorities and with the programme of training agreed between the research organisation and MRC.
  • The research organisation must be able to demonstrate:
    • The demand for and career-destinations of previous PhD graduates in the relevant area (even if they were not MRC funded)
    • Evidence of a shortage of high-quality UK candidates in relation to this demand
  • The research organisation must be able to demonstrate that it needs to use MRC funds for this purpose.

Research organisations are required to seek permission from MRC prior to advertising the role to candidates who does not meet the normal residence requirements. To seek permission, complete the application to recruit an international student form and email this to RFPD@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk