Reporter 397, 17 February 1997


Funding scheme for overseas students wins strong support

The four higher education funding bodies in the United Kingdom have agreed to continue funding a scheme which each year supports about 900 new highly talented overseas students to carry out research in the UK.

The Overseas Research Students Awards Scheme (ORSAS) was introduced in 1980 following a sharp rise in overseas student fees. There are currently 2,250 postgraduate students supported by ORSAS carrying out research in 105 universities and colleges. Nearly 200 higher education institutions participate in the scheme The University has been provisionally awarded 54 scholarship places, the demand for places has risen considerbaly in the last year.

The four funding bodies have reviewed the scheme to find out if it is still meeting its original objectives. It is designed to support the country's research base by ensuring that outstanding students are still able to come to the UK to carry out their initial research, despite the increased fee levels.

The group set up to review the scheme received strong support for its continuation from organisations and individuals outside higher education, as well as widespread support among universities and colleges.

Sir John Hanson, Director General of the British Council, said: 'There is no doubt that this scheme brings immense benefit to the country. Other scholarship schemes provide aid to needy countries; ORSAS is different - it benefits the UK by attracting top-flight students to our research departments. We must make sure that the scheme is effectively publicised overseas so that the net is cast as widely as possible.'

The review group concluded that the scheme was still meeting its original purpose. Without it the most able overseas students might go to the United States or other countries offering generous awards, and the high quality of research in this country would suffer.

The scheme is administered by a committee set up by the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals. The value of the award to individual students represents the difference between the full-cost overseas tuition fee and that charged to a home or EC postgraduate student.

The Higher Education Funding Councils for England, Scotland and Wales and the Department of Education for Northern Ireland have agreed to contribute a total of £11 million to the scheme in 1997-98.

The funding bodies have agreed that the scheme should be reviewed again after five years.

For further information please contact

Roger Grinyer at HEFCE ON 0117 931 7307

Ros Granger at HEFCE ON 01222761 861

Julai Amour at SHEFC ON 01313136582

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