I’ve been trying to appoint someone onto an EPSRC Case studentship. The eligability rules are a nightmare. Apart from the fact that no one knows exactly what they are (I phoned up EPSRC and no one there knew!), they appear to be largely UK only. Other EU citizens can apply, but they need a three year residency in the UK. Stupid! The PhD is an international qualification. PhD students add immeasurably to the research environment. We should be glad that talented people want to come to the UK from abroad.
The core problem is, I think, that the PhD is considered to be an education, rather than a job. Thus, we have PhD students rather than researchers. This is only to the disadvantage of the students — they get treated poorly by the University system, it’s harder to get loans or mortgages. Even the tax free status is a disadvantage — it saves the employer money, while the student comes out with a large gap in their stamps.
Originally published on my old blog site.