5 concerns you may have as an international applicant about PhD in the UK

As an international applicant, you may have several concerns and questions while planning your PhD in the UK. Let’s take a look at them one by one.

Table of Contents

1. Is a UK PhD easy or hard?

You may be thinking that a UK PhD is easy to do or not. The question arises compared to what? If you are comparing it to a master’s in your home country then a PhD in the UK will definitely demand much more from your mental and physical resources.

A PhD, no matter what area of research it is, is always a grind and a great learning experience as well. A PhD, in contrast to your previous academic accomplishments, is an independent research project. You may be very good at going through the coursework, making the assignments, and memorizing the material you have been given during your bachelor’s and master’s, but planning to execute and working on a project that is unique is an entirely different thing.

Therefore, a PhD in the UK is definitely harder than anything you have done so far in academia. Even if you have worked in a corporate job the PhD is still harder than most of the full-time work opportunities out there.

2. Is a UK PhD funded for international students?

Range of Annual Tuition Fee of PhD in the UK (full-time international student)£15,000- £23,000
Average Living cost for a PhD student in a smaller urban area- Durham City (including rent)£17,000
Average Living cost for a PhD student in a bigger urban area- London City (including rent)£26,000
Other expenses e.g., research expenditures may vary due to the research topic
How much does a self-funded PhD cost the UK? More details and stats on What Are The Benefits Of Doing PhD In UK?

The UK provides a diverse set of options to fund your PhD. Although the popular UKRI and research councils’ studentships only designate a smaller portion of their funds to international PhD students, still, there are many other options to get paid to do a PhD in the UK as an international student.

  Can you work while doing a PhD in UK?

Also Read: How to fund a PhD as an international student In the UK?

In a nutshell, as an international student, you can apply for funded PhD projects with studentship funding attached, you can also apply for open calls (where you propose your PhD project) with studentships announced by the university for PhD admissions every year, and you can secure third-party funding either in the UK or in your home country (an option popular among international PhD students).

A fully-funded PhD studentship in the UK means you will be awarded a monthly PhD stipend (modest enough to get by in the UK for one person) and a fee waiver for your tuition. Make sure to apply for PhD funding that addresses the international PhD student fee rate, otherwise, you may need to look for other partial funding and work opportunities to compensate for the fee gap between the UK student fee rate and the international student fee rate.

Also Read: How Much Might It Cost to Do a PhD?

4. Is a UK PhD worth it for international students?

A PhD in the UK can be beneficial if you are planning to work and settle in the UK after your PhD. The UK offers generous work permit post-PhD as well as a growing job market that need highly skilled immigrant workers.

If, on the other hand, (a) you can move to the UK without a PhD or (b) you are trying to make a career in academia then you may get disappointed due to the grim job market. There are two major reasons behind this

  1. First, a job market always craves a higher skill set which usually comes from more work experience and not a research degree. You can bring the transferable skills from your PhD as well as the industry internship experience during your PhD.
  2. Second, academia, excluding some fields of studies, is fiercely competitive and a PhD in the UK may grim your chances of settling in the UK if you intend to do a postdoc after your PhD.
  What are the benefits of doing PhD in UK?

5. Can I settle after PhD in the UK?

Yes, there is a good chance that you can settle in the UK and make it your home after a PhD because

  1. there is an ever-growing need for a highly-skilled workforce in the UK: according to many reliable estimates, the UK is running out of highly skilled workers to drive its economy. It may be a declining birth rate as well as an aging population or a fast-growing market that needs more and more workers. That being the case, you can develop some core skills along with your PhD studies to stand out before the hiring managers.
  2. there are friendly graduate visa policies for UK PhD graduates: A PhD graduate is offered the longest graduate work permit as compared to any other education. This can benefit you by decreasing the stress of staying in the UK. With your graduate visa after PhD, you can find out an employer who can sponsor your work visa or you can experiment with a startup idea. You can then apply for further work permits, and eventually, indefinite leave to remain- the UK version of permanent residency.

FAQs for concerns of international applicants about PhD in the UK

How much does it cost to self-fund a PhD in the UK for international students?

As a full-time international self-funded PhD student you are going to pay between £15,000- £23,000 as an annual tuition fee. Next, the average living cost for a single PhD student can be £26,000 in London and £17,000 in smaller urban areas. Other expenses like research expenditures and conference participation fees may vary by your area of study.

  10 things top UK universities look for in PhD applicants?
Can I do a part-time job while doing a PhD in the UK?

Yes, you can take part-time work along with your PhD studies in the UK. General permission to work from UKVI (UK visa and immigration) is 20 hours per week. Although allowed by tier-4 visa policies, you may not be allowed to work part-time if you are funded by a studentship. You should contact your prospective PhD advisor and department to know about accurate working permissions during your PhD.

How to get a fully-funded studentship in the UK?

As an international PhD student, you have many options to get a fully-funded studentship in the UK. You can apply for (a) funding attached with projects, (b) funding offered by the university for open PhD calls every year, (c) and any third party grant in UK or your home country to provide you financial support during PhD years.

Is a PhD losing its value in the UK?

No, a UK PhD is still worth it, even though academia cannot employ a large portion of its graduates. You can make your UK PhD worthwhile if you have high clarity on what you want to do with your PhD. If you are doing a PhD because (a) you are interested in the subject, (b) you need your PhD diploma to secure a specific job, or (c) you are an international student who wants to settle in the UK. If you have any two reasons among these the PhD grind of 3-4 years in the UK is likely to benefit you.

Does a PhD guarantee a job in the UK?

PhD is just like any other advanced degree when it comes to industry hiring. An advanced degree in a demanding area of expertise is certainly helpful in convincing the hiring managers that you are the best person for the position. However, you can increase your chances of getting a job after PhD in the UK by (a) getting some industry internship experience and exposure during your PhD years, (b) increasing your network and professional online presence, and (c) contacting related specialists for mentorship opportunities.