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ARSF Eligibility Policy

(for more detail, see the NERC Research Grants handbookexternal link)

Principal Investigator

The Principal Investigator on the application must:

At the time of application, applicants must be resident in the UK and hold an appropriate appointment at an eligible institution for at least the duration of the application. Applicants who are about to take up an appropriate appointment at an eligible institution may submit applications before the start date of their employment, providing the application is accompanied by a confirming statement from the host institution. Applicants in this category should contact NERC before submitting the application.

NERC may request further clarification that an individual is eligible to apply as a Principal Investigator. Evidence that the Principal Investigator is a member of the academic staff at a higher education institution may include their employment under the terms and conditions for academic (but not academic-related or research-related) staff, or a statement from the university authorities confirming their status as a member of the academic staff. Research assistants, university research fellows, technicians and other support staff in HEIs are not eligible to apply.

Staff in NERC Research Centres at any grade may apply as Principal or Co-Investigators, provided their salary costs are not met from an existing research grant.


Co-Investigators must meet the eligibility criteria for a Principal Investigator, and should be able to take over from the Principal Investigator if required. Where an award is split between institutions, the application must name at least one Investigator from each.


The Principal Investigator may name up to four formal Collaborators, who will not receive funding directly from the award, but will have an integral role in the proposed research. Named Collaborators may include staff in overseas institutions or from UK bodies (including the user community) that are not eligible to hold NERC grants. Collaborators should ensure the availability of the necessary facilities and infrastructure before completing the form.

Research Students

Research Students are not eligible to apply to the ARSF in their own right, but applications for data in support of PhD projects can be made on their behalf by supervisors who meet the PI criteria outlined above. Applications can be solely in support of a PhD project, or can be a component of a wider research application.

Eligible Institutions

Non-thematic research grants may be held at approved UK universities or colleges, NERC Research Centres, the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC) and at any of the recognised Academic Analogues listed in Annexe E of the Research Grants handbook. NERC Research Centres and the CCLRC are subject to strict limits on the number of applications that may be submitted in any Non-thematic round. Thematic research grants and consortium grants may be held at any institution eligible to receive non-thematic funding, at other Research Councils' Institutes, Scottish Agricultural and Biological Research Institutes (SABRIs), Government Research Establishments (GREs), agencies and not-for-profit research organisations.