PhD Funding For International Students

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Written by Kimberly Linhares

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August 18, 2021

A Simple Introduction To PhD Funding

Funding for PhD study is a little more complicated than it is for other degrees. There are lots of different ways a student can be funded and your situation may also change during the 3-4 years it takes to complete a PhD. This short guide is here to introduce PhD funding for international students as a whole. Explaining how it works for different types of projects and students. Here’s an outline of a good route to take for your funding search. 

Funding For PhD Students: Who Funds PhDs?

A very obvious question we ask ourselves…who might help you pay for a PhD? All sorts of organisations provide funding for doctoral research, but we can divide them into a few broad types:

Government Bodies

Often provide some of the most generous PhD studentships. Their goal is to support national research objectives and train people to carry them out. In the UK the biggest government funder is UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) but other countries all have similar organisations. Access to this kind of funding is limited and competitive.

Student Finance:

It is sometimes available to help students who aren’t able to receive a full studentship but doesn’t normally cover the full cost of a PhD. The UK offers a PhD loan of up to £26,445. Some banks and other private lenders also offer commercial loans for postgraduate study.

Universities:

They usually have funding of their own to offer potential PhD students. This might take the form of a small fee discount or limited grant for living costs. Or it might be a full studentship funded out of the university’s research budget. Some university funding is provided in return for teaching, research assistantship or other work (this is quite common in Europe and North America).

Independent Charities And Trusts:

They often fund PhD study that supports their wider goals (such as medical research, heritage preservation or increasing access to education). The support they offer varies hugely and isn’t usually full funding.

Business And Industry:

They will occasionally support PhD students whose work has potential benefit for their commercial objectives. Sometimes this funding will be offered to current or prospective employees. 

PhD Funding For International Students

The Different Types Of Funding Situation

Now that you know where PhD funding comes from, let’s think about how this looks from a student’s point of view. We’re generalising again, but there are roughly three types of funding situations:

Fully-Funded Students:

Students who are as lucky as that name suggests. They have a full studentship covering their PhD fees along with more or less all of their living costs and other expenses. They probably aren’t drinking champagne every night, but they don’t need to worry too much about the cost of their PhD.

Partially-Funded Students:

Students who receive a partial scholarship or studentship. They usually need to top up their funding with other grants or rely on some of their savings, and earnings.

Self-Funded Students:

Students who aren’t receiving any substantial funding and are therefore paying for a PhD themselves using a combination of student loans, savings or earnings.

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PhD Funding Around the World

There are several avenues you can explore in PhD funding for international students. Of course, you can self-fund if you have the resources. Some students may find it easier to take their PhD part-time, which reduces tuition fees and also frees up time in which to earn money if no external funding is available. Nonetheless, many PhD students enrol based on scholarships, research/teaching assistantships, and grants which are made available for PhD students.

Sources Of PhD Funding 

The Ministry or Department of Education in your home or host country is a good starting point for many forms of educational grants. Some charities and trusts offer financial help to specific demographics and sometimes very specific indeed! Some organizations may also offer financial support for existing employees who wish to begin PhD studies during their employment. Candidates wishing to ask their employer to help fund a PhD must usually explain how their studies will benefit their personal and professional development.

When applying for any sort of funding, always make sure to adhere to the often very strict deadlines, and to apply as early as possible to avoid disappointment. You may also find it takes a considerable amount of time to get all the required materials, essays, personal statements and references ready before you can apply to a funding opportunity.

PhD Funding Around The World

PhD Funding In The UK

In the UK, there is a range of funding options for PhD students. Many universities have a limited number of studentships or grants made specifically available for postgraduate applicants. The amounts provided could range from covering tuition costs, covering living costs or simply covering costs for textbooks and research materials.

PhD Funding In India

There is a range of funding options in India among PhD funding for international students. Includes scholarships and grants provided by the Indian government, governments of other countries specifically for Indian students, scholarships from the universities themselves and scholarships by private and public organizations. One example is the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) which provides grants for independent researchers, which includes PhD students.

PhD Funding In Australia And New Zealand

Australian citizens are not charged course fees for their PhDs but are charged the student services and amenities fees (SSAF) set by each university. International students must pay course fees or use a scholarship such as the Destination Australia awards for funding.  

All PhD funding for international students in New Zealand is eligible to pay the same fees as local PhD students. Students can apply for scholarship schemes run by their university, ask their supervisors for advice on funding schemes that are not widely publicized, or use one of the government-run scholarships such as the International Doctoral Research Scholarships (NZIDRS). You may also apply through funding bodies such as the MacDiarmid Institute.

International PhD Funding

In PhD funding for international students, The European Union provides grants to promote the exchange of students and academic staff within Europe. Such as

  1. Awards to students from developing countries
    • The Erasmus+ programs 
    • The European Commission (EC)’s 
  1. Full PhD scholarships for tuition within member states
    • The Organization of American States (OAS) 
    • The OAS Special Caribbean Scholarships Program (SPECAF) 

PS: If there’s anything more you’d like us to know about. Add it to the comments section!

We hope you enjoyed reading this blog on ‘PhD Funding For International Students’ Do check out our other blogs. 

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