What you need to know about the Doctorate Extension Scheme ending

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This article was published by the Great British Mag content team on 2 March 2021.

If you’re currently studying for a PhD or doctorate qualification and want to stay in the UK after your course is over, you’ll need to know about this scheme, and the changes being made to it in summer 2021. We’ve got all the relevant information for you right here, in our handy guide. 

What is the Doctorate Extension Scheme?

The Doctorate Extension Scheme allows international students who are studying for a PhD or doctorate to extend their visa for a further year after their course ends, to gain work experience or find a job. 

To be eligible for the scheme, you’ll need to already be in the UK, studying for a PhD or doctorate with a relevant visa. The Doctorate Extension Scheme requires you to be sponsored by your university (which must be on the government’s register of licensed sponsors: students) and for your application to be made before the end of your course. 

Why is the Doctorate Extension Scheme ending?

The current Doctorate Extension Scheme is coming to an end in summer 2021. This is because it will be replaced by the new Graduate Route, which is a general post-study work visa that undergraduates will also be eligible to apply for. 

For PhD and Doctorate students, the Graduate Route visa will last for three years (for undergraduates it’s two) and allow you to work at all levels, with no deadline for finding a job within that time. 

The Graduate Route will be subject to fees (these are yet to be announced) and dependent on payment of the Healthcare Surcharge, too.  

What is the deadline to apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme?

If your course is expected to end before summer 2021, you will still be able to apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme, and you can do this up to 60 days before the end of your course. The exact date that the Doctorate Extension Scheme will end is yet to be announced. 

However, if your studies end in summer 2021 or after and you want to stay in the UK after this date to continue your research, start work or look for a job, you will need to apply for the Graduate Route instead. 

Can I transfer from the Doctorate Extension Scheme to the Graduate Route?

Full details about the Graduate Route haven’t yet been announced, but it doesn’t look like those on a Doctorate Extension Scheme will be able to transfer to the Graduate Route and claim the extra two years the new visa promises. 

However, there are other visas you might want to think about if your extension is due to expire and you want to stay in the UK. For instance, if you have set up a new business or are looking to, the Start-up visa or Innovator visa could be the way to go. Or, if you’ve secured employment then you may be eligible for a Skilled Worker visa, depending on the nature of your job. 

And remember, if you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who was living in the UK before 31 December 2020, you could be eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme, which would mean you can continue to live, study and work in the UK freely, with the same benefits as before Brexit. 

You may also want to read

Can I stay and work in the UK after university?

Can students apply for the EU Settlement Scheme?

New UK student visa explained – 2021