UCL to fill national funding gap for overseas research students
12 February 2009
UCL has today announced that it is introducing a £1.3 million annual overseas research student scholarship award scheme to replace a national scheme due to be phased out by the national funding body HEFCE. UCL is the first UK university to launch an equivalent scheme of its own to ensure that the most talented international postgraduate students continue to receive funding to come to the university to study.
The UCL Overseas Research Scholarships (UCL-ORS) will offer funding to successful applicants from around the world outside the EU. The only criteria will be the academic excellence and the research potential of each applicant. The scheme will be phased in over three years, starting in 2009/10, and will maintain funding at the levels currently set in the national scheme, ORSAS, which the UK Government is phasing out.
Of UCL's 209 new overseas research students in the current year, 41 have received an award under the ORSAS national scheme. A total of 106 current UCL overseas research students receive support under the scheme. UCL envisages maintaining student support at least at the level set by the national scheme as it takes over funding responsibility completely from 2011/12.
"We were concerned that withdrawal of the national scheme would have a detrimental effect on the UK's reputation as a host for overseas postgraduate research students," said Professor David Bogle, Head of the UCL Graduate School. "Recent research has shown that far more international postgraduate students in the UK pay for their studies from their own funds than is the case in the USA, where they are quite clear that these students bring significant value to their institutions. Competition for them is fierce and we need to do what we can to attract them.
"We decided to become the first UK university to make this significant financial commitment because we believe that it sends out a message about our determination to attract the brightest students from around the world, and ensure that wherever possible financial constraints do not prevent them from taking up the opportunities to study at a leading institution. We also value our reputation as a truly international university, which is another reason why we have decided to make such a significant investment at what is a difficult time financially. We hope that other institutions will follow suit because we need to work to reinforce the high esteem in which the UK higher education sector is held internationally."
Manuela Dal Borgo, a current recipient of funding under the national scheme, is a first year M.Phil./PhD candidate in UCL Greek and Latin, engaged in cross disciplinary doctoral research with the UCL Department of Economics, on a thesis which distils the text of the ancient historian Thucydides utilizing modern game theory. She says:
"It is my intention to make useful contributions which will help us to better understand and predict our economic and political events. UCL is by far the best university for my research because it provides exceptional, even unique, circumstances and support for cross disciplinary training, without which my project could not go forward. Consequently, I am able to carry out this research in Classics, Ancient History and Economics and am extraordinarily lucky to have the best possible supervisors in the world for this research. But I could not be here at UCL to carry out this work if it were not for the funding I receive from the UCL Graduate Research Scholarships scheme and the Overseas Research Students Award."
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Image: UCL research students from the US and Mexico share their findings at a scholars tea held in 2008