skip to content

Student Registry


Q. PhD Student Funding: Staff or Studentship?

Note: if you are considering paying costs for a student from a Research Grant, contact the Research Office for advice as soon as possible.

Task Area of Responsibility Staff route Studentship route
Graduate Student Admission Graduate Admissions Office (GAO) Student applies via GRADSAF to GAO- academic decision is made
Full time/Part time study Student Registry Can be either
Submission of thesis deadline Student Registry 4 years from start date (FT), 6 years (PT)
Title of 'award' Department Research Assistantship (or similar) Studentship (or Scholarship)
Restriction on topic of PhD Student Registry Yes, content for which employed should overlap with PhD thesis if studying Full time. No
University Composition Fee (UCF) rate Student Registry Reduced Staff fee rate if employed at least 40% full time = 33% of the relevant 'Home' rate for the course (see below) Standard rates 2009/10: Home/EU £3390 Overseas: £9,747 (Arts), £12,768 (Science), £23, 631 (Clinical).
College fee n/a from 2015, the University Fee above includes a College share  
Study Hours Student Registry If studying Full Time, area of work must overlap with PhD research. If studying Part time, should devote 60% of 40 hours p/week to thesis. Recommended 40 hour study p/week. Can work max 10 hours p/week in related academic activity (ie supervisions)
Level of minimum Maintenance Student Registry Stipend rate depends on % employment. Must also meet Student Registry minimum level. Stipend must at least meet the Student Registry minimum (see GAO website). Research Council scholarships currently pay at least £14,057 p/a in 2015/6.
Payment of fees To College College raises invoice for University fee. Fees paid to College.
Tax HR A student who takes on a paid contract may become liable for NI and/or tax if their pay exceeds the following (rates below are from 2009/10, please check for updates with HR directly) :

1. Liable for NI if weekly pay exceeds £139/wk and/or £602/month.

2. Liable to pay tax if they earn more than £144.00/wk weekly and/or £623.00/month. This will be refunded if their overall earnings for the year (from all of their employers) are less than the personal allowance of £7,475 p.a.

Research studentships and advanced course studentships awarded for the maintenance of students undergoing training in research methods or taking post-graduate courses are not taxable as employment income. See HM Revenue and Customs.
Visa The UK operates a points based immigration system. Under this system anyone wishing to enter the UK must ensure that they hold a valid visa. For further guidance on this please see the International Student Team website. Staff who require a visa to work should seek the advice of HR to determine whether they can study on that visa. See the International Student Team website.

Q. What is the University Staff Fee Rate?

If the student is employed with the University at least 40% full time, the Head of Department can approve an application for the Reduced Staff Fee Rate, which equates to a 1/3 of the Home rate for the course, regardless of Fee status. Note that College and NUI staff members are not eligible for this reduction. For exact course costs, please see the latest Student Registry fee liability summary.

Q. Why is There a Duty to Advertise a Studentship if the Department Already Has a Candidate in Mind?

The University's office of Equality and Diversity have advised Student Registry that while scholarships may not be an employment position as such, they are still an educational opportunity offered by the University. As such we are advised to be concerned about any discriminatory practice. If departments do not have procedures that allow full and open selection (ie if they are awarding scholarships to known and favoured students), this would be discriminatory and as such a breach of our equality duties.

Scholarships should be advertised with the relevant eligibility criteria, on the University's website as a minimum. This would allow those who were interested and eligible to freely and competitively apply on an equal footing (the selection processes should also be non-discriminatory).

Another consideration will be the requirement of the sponsor in terms of advertising. The Equality Challenge Unit should be consulted for further advice in this area.

Recruitment and advertising costs can be an expense which is borne by the individual or department. However, if you are funding a position via a research grant then costs like these can, in most cases, be built into the project. If you are in any doubt as to whether the research sponsor would meet such costs please check with the Research Office.

Further information

Q. What if Fees Cannot be Paid From the Funding Source? (ie. EU grants)

Most UK sponsors will meet the cost of University fees, set at the level of EU/Home students, with one or two exceptions. The main sponsor which does not generally recognise fees is the European Community. Both its research funding programmes (FP7 and Horizon 2020) do not accept tuition fees to be a direct eligible cost, except when training can be deemed to be the main objective of the project. The EC does however allow for flexibility on the stipend rate paid to PhD students, which may enable for a portion of the fees to be covered directly by the student.

The only exceptions are Marie Sklodowska-Curie ITN and IAAP grants, where the new UCF (University Composition Fee) is an eligible cost for Early Stage Researchers. The fees should be charged whenever possible at the reduced staff rate and be claimed under ‘Research, Training and Networking Costs’. For all other EC actions tuition fee remains an ineligible direct cost. Please do check with your usual Research Office contact for the latest information on how to cost students on EU grants.

For those sponsors unwilling to meet fees an option is to ask the student to cover the cost themselves, however, if they are on a low-level stipend this may be unlikely, and by inflating the stipend to include c. £6k of fees the students tax-free status may be questioned by HMRC. There are obviously separate 'pots' of funding available from college or departmental funds expressly for the purpose of covering fees for which it is not possible to produce a list of here. Another option is for the department to cover the cost of fees from it's share of the overhead generated from the research grant. As the division of overhead funds is governed by certain rules it may be worth checking with your Research Office contact to ensure that the income to the department would satisfy such a need.