ORSAS frequently asked questions
Information for new applicants
What is ORSAS?
The Overseas Research Student Awards Scheme (ORSAS) helps outstanding postgraduate research students from outside the United Kingdom and European Community to study in the UK by providing for some of the costs of their training and supervision. ORSAS funding is paid directly to institutions and not to individual students.
How much is an ORSAS award?
ORSAS awards provide funding to pay the difference, in most cases, between the international student tuition fees and the home /EU student tuition fees charged by the academic institution that the student is or will be attending. ORSAS awards do not cover the home/EU fee element, maintenance or travel expenses. You will need to confirm the exact amount, and what costs you are still eligible to pay with the institution you choose.
ORSAS is being phased out, can I still apply for an award?
Higher education institutions have been notified of the funding they will receive until the end of 2010-11. They will need to decide what awards to offer but we anticipate that a good number of awards will be available for students starting in 2008-09. For further information, you should speak to the institution at which you would like to study.
Am I eligible to apply for an ORSAS award?
The only two criteria for winning an award are: (1) academic ability, and (2) research potential. Please note that to be eligible to apply for an ORSAS award
- you must be liable for the overseas fee (you will need to check this with your institution)
- you must be of outstanding merit and research potential
- you must not have previously been awarded a PhD or equivalent degree
- you must not have held an ORS award before
- the Department or School in which you wish to study must support your application.
ORSAS supports only full-time postgraduate research students. If you are intending to take an undergraduate or taught postgraduate course you will not receive an ORSAS award.
How do I apply for an ORSAS award?
If you are eligible to apply for an award, the first step is to identify the university or college in which you would like to study. The institution you choose will tell you how to apply and this may differ between institutions. Details of participating institutions in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are available.
Can I apply for more than one ORSAS award?
This is discouraged, as students cannot hold more than one ORSAS award. However, there are no penalties for students who apply for an ORSAS award at more than one institution, provided only one award is accepted. Contact details for each participating institution can be found on this site.
Are ORSAS awards available for all subjects?
Yes. The only two criteria for winning an award are: (1) academic ability, and (2) research potential. Other factors, such as: proposed field, financial status, nationality, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion/belief, marital status or any other inappropriate distinctions, will not be taken into account.
Do all universities hold ORSAS awards?
No. The list of participating institutions in the UK is available on this site.
Are there other grants or awards available for overseas student studying in the UK?
All overseas undergraduate students (both EU and non-EU) seeking financial assistance should contact the British Council in their country. The British Council's web-site address is http://www.britishcouncil.org.
For further information about studying in the UK contact UKCISA: The Council for International Education, 9-17 St Albans Place, London, N1 0NX, tel 020 7288 4330, web-site www.ukcisa.org.uk. UKCISA cannot offer any financial aid itself but its guidance notes on studying in the UK can be downloaded free from its web-site.
[ Back to top ]
How do I renew my ORSAS award?
Individual ORSAS awards are administered by your sponsoring institution. Please contact them directly about your ORSAS award. Contact details for each participating institution can be found on this site.
Can you confirm my enrolment as a postgraduate research student for my visa extension?
No. The university at which you study is your sponsoring body and you should contact them for details about your award.
I hear ORSAS is being phased out after 2009, what will happen to my award?
If you are a current award holder or have been offered an award to start in 2009-09 and have any concerns, you should speak to your institution.
Can I transfer my ORSAS award to a different institution?
Any student transfers are at the discretion of your sponsoring institution and will need to be approved by both institutions involved. It is advisable to also seek formal approval from your supervisor.
I would like to work in the UK after my PhD, does ORSAS impose any restrictions on me?
The Home Office may ask you to provide them with a written letter of consent stating that the conditions of your ORSAS award do not impose any restrictions on seeking employment within the United Kingdom after graduation. If you require such a letter, please email ORSAS@hefce.ac.uk and let us know your name and address and we shall write to you immediately.
[ Back to top ]
Why did the administration of ORSAS change in 2006?
Arrangements for the Overseas Research Students Awards Scheme (ORSAS) were revised in 2006-07 to reduce the burden on institutions. Further details can be found in the following circular letters:
- Circular letter number 15 Changes to the Overseas Research Students Award Scheme
- Circular letter number 21 Overseas Research Students Awards Scheme (ORSAS): revised arrangements in England
What is our ORSAS allocation?
From October 2006 HEFCE will pay institutions formula-based allocations. In England, institutions' allocations for 2006-07 will be based on the average value of the ORSAS payments which they have received over the three years 2002-03 to 2004-05.
The allocations for 2008-09 were uplifted in line with GDP from the previous year and announced in March 2008 as part of the annual grant letter to Vice-Chancellors.
What does the ORSAS funding cover?
The terms of the funding are unchanged, and can be summarised as follows:
- the objective of the ORSAS scheme is to encourage high quality overseas postgraduate research students to undertake their research in the UK
- the funding should be used to provide awards to full-time postgraduate students who are classified as 'overseas' for tuition fee purposes
- awards must be made for the difference between the home tuition fee for postgraduate research students and the institution's overseas tuition fee for the relevant subject
- awards can be held for a maximum of three years
- ORSAS awards may only be made up to the value of each institution's ORSAS allocation. Additional awards funded from other sources should not be associated with the ORSAS name
- The only two criteria for winning an award are: (1) academic ability, and (2) research potential.
My institution doesn't have an ORSAS allocation, how can I get one?
Unfortunately, HEFCE do not have the resources to fund ORSAS beyond 2009 and can not invite new members to join the scheme. Funding for existing participants will be phased out from 2009-2011.
We have too many applicants, who should we fund?
The operational arrangements for ORSAS are at the discretion of individual institutions. The allocation of ORSAS awards must be based on two criteria: (1) academic ability, and (2) research potential.
Can we fund ORSAS awards in any subjects?
The only two criteria for winning an award are: (1) academic ability, and (2) research potential. Other factors, such as: financial status, nationality, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion/belief, marital status or any other inappropriate distinctions, will not be taken into account.
Can students transfer ORSAS award to a different institution?
Any student transfers are at the discretion of the sponsoring institution but will require approval from both institutions involved to enable any transfer of funds. It is also advisable to seek approval from the student's supervisor.
[ Back to top ]