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Newton Bhabha PhD Placement Program 2019-20

About the Program

Newton Bhabha Fund aims to develop the individual capacity of PhD scholars by offering short-term (two to four months) placements at UK or Indian higher education or research institutions. It is jointly funded by the UK Government Newton-Fund and the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and public-funded Indian Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) that have expressed interest through British Council’s ‘Expression of Interest’ process to collaborate as delivery partners.

Newton Bhabha PhD Placement Program 2019-20

Call announcement For Newton Newton Bhabha PhD Placement Program 8th August 2019
Deadline To Apply / Call closes 8th October 2019
Result Declaration December 2019
Placements to be undertaken March to December 2020
Report submission Within 30 days of the completion of the placement


Newton Bhabha PhD placements will be focused on research areas which have been identified at the country level as important for fulfilling the Newton-Bhabha Fund goals. For details, please refer to section 5. Priority sectors.

The approach of the program will be scholar-centered to ensure that the best possible development experience is provided. International exchanges should add value by enabling scholars to:

  • learn valuable new skills or techniques for research
  • access facilities or resources not readily available in their home country
  • build relationships with potential new collaborators, including industry partners where
  • advance complementary collaborative research

DST, in collaboration with the British Council, will support up to 45 PhD scholars from India and UK in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) from the pool of INSPIRE Fellows.

DBT in collaboration with British Council will support up to 35 PhD scholars from India and UK in Life Sciences (other than INSPIRE Fellows).

Public-funded Indian HEI’s in collaboration with British Council will support up to 90 PhD Scholars from India in any discipline working on themes mentioned in Section 5: Priority Sectors.

First grant installment payments are expected to be disbursed by the end of February / March 2020 and placements can take place between March to December 2020. Grants are paid in two installments and are made to institutions and not directly to students.

British Council reserves the right to not fill all positions depending on the quality of applications and assessment results.

The program outcomes are to:

  • develop the individual capacity of students through international training and development opportunities
  • create a cadre of highly trained researchers in the UK and India with international experience, able to contribute to the absorptive capacity for research and innovation and thus bring about economic and social benefits
  • enable participation of UK scholars and Indian PhD scholars in international intellectual networks, building cultural understanding, and fostering long-term sustainable research collaborations
  • create awareness of the research strengths of the UK and India


Priority Areas

UK and India have identified the following six priority areas for the Newton-Bhabha Fund:

1. Sustainable cities and urbanization
2. Public health and wellbeing
3. Energy-water-food nexus
4. Understanding oceans
5. High-value manufacturing
6. Big data

Accordingly, applications are invited in STEM, Life Science subjects, which are:

  • Biological and Medical sciences including Life Sciences, Biotechnology, Botany, Zoology, Microbiology, Biochemistry, Medicine, Pharma, and Veterinary Sciences
  • Engineering and Physical sciences including Physics, Chemistry, Engineering, Physical Mathematics, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Big Data and Manufacturing
  • Environment, Food, and Agriculture Sciences
  • Public Health and Well-being Public-funded Indian Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) can consider those disciplines that would align with the six priority areas of the Newton-Bhabha Fund. These may include Physical Sciences, Fundamental Sciences, and Social Sciences.



Newton Bhabha PhD – For Indian national applicants: The scheme is open only for Indian scholars enrolled at Indian HEIs with the following criteria:

  • INSPIRE PhD Senior Research Fellows (SRFs) of Batch 2016 are eligible to apply for a STEM and Life Sciences subject
  • PhD Scholars (other than INSPIRE Fellows) who have qualified through national level test and are pursuing PhD in the mid-second or third year of Life Sciences are eligible to apply. They also need to clear one of the following national-level tests: CSIR/UGC-NET, GATE, BET, ICMR-NET, ICAR-NET. Please upload a certificate of the national level test passed as a supporting document.
  • PhD scholars pursuing PhD in second or third year from public-funded Indian HEIs (other than INSPIRE and those pursuing Life Sciences) in above-mentioned priority areas are eligible to apply.
  • Women scholars pursuing PhD in public-funded HEIs are strongly encouraged to apply.

For UK national applicants: The scheme is open only for UK scholars pursuing their PhD at a UK home institution including applicants from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Applications will be considered from scholars from all institutions which are strong in research in the priority sectors described in the previous section.

For both Indian and UK scholars:

  • Applicants should have a valid passport before applying.
  • Applicants are required to submit their PhD thesis only after completion of the placement. Please refer to the detailed eligibility criteria in Annex 1.


How to Apply – Application Procedure:

Application guidelines

Applications should be accompanied with endorsement letters from both the sending and receiving institutes, signed by Head of Department (or equivalent). The letter from the host institution must confirm that they will host the PhD scholar and provide details of all academic and countrified support, the duration of the stay and the level of bench fees they will charge.

Endorsement letters from UK universities should outline bench fees if any, that will be charged. In addition, if any registration or other fees are charged, these should be disclosed to the applicant in advance. Please note applications without the endorsement letters will not be considered for funding.


Application Process

Indian applicants should submit the form online by clicking here

UK applicants should submit the form online by clicking here

The deadline for receipt of applications is 8 October 2019. Results are expected to be announced on December 2019.


Funding arrangements for Indian scholars

The British Council will cover the following items:

  • Indian scholars’ bench fees in the UK: Maximum GBP 5000, where the UK host university cannot waive the bench fees (or consumables costs). The UK host supervisor can apply for this bench fees by stating the amount in the endorsement letter. In addition, the applicant has to enter this amount in his/her application form. Amount stated in the application form will be considered for funding.
  • Indian scholars’ stipend in the UK – GBP 1300 per month to cover meals, accommodation, domestic travel, etc.

DST / DBT/ Indian HEIs to cover the following items:

  • Indian scholars’ visa fees
  • Indian scholars’ international return airfares (economy class) as per Government of India (GOI) norms
  • Indian scholars’ travel insurance as per Government of India norms


Evaluation criteria

Scholars should ensure their applications meet the following criteria which are the principles underlying candidate assessment:

  • all questions on the application form are answered
  • the activities are planned to deliver the outcomes in the most effective manner
  • the application articulates a plausible pathway showing how the research may lead to positive impact and contribute to the economic development and social welfare of India
  • the placement will add value to the PhD research and to the activities of the two research groups
  • the support offered to the researcher will ensure that the placement is as productive as possible and facilitates cascading of learning gained through the placement
  • the research is relevant to the priority sectors (mentioned above) of the Newton-Bhabha Programme
  • the mobility program will contribute towards developing a long term sustainable partnership between UK and Indian universities
  • the scholar will return to complete their PhD at their home university.


Evaluation process

The British Council, DST, and DBT will conduct the first level of assessment independently and shortlist scholars. Following this, a joint panel between the agencies will be organized to take a final decision.

For HEIs, the British Council will form a joint selection panel of external and internal experts to assess all the applications. Results proposed by the panel will be considered final.

Applications will be screened for their relevance to the six priority sectors of the Newton-Bhabha Fund (mentioned above) and to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals including socio-economic development.


Newton Bhabha PhD Placement – Contracting & Financial Arrangements For Indian PhD Scholars:

The British Council will sign a Grant Agreement with UK host Institution to disburse stipend and bench fees (if any) for the Indian scholar. The grant will only be released once the British Council receives a signed Grant Agreement from the UK host institution within the specified timeline which will be notified as a part of the grant agreement. The UK host institution will be responsible for disbursing the stipend to the respective Indian scholar.

DST or DBT will release funds for the Indian PhD scholar to his/her respective Indian home institutions followed by sending the sanction letter. Indian home institutions will disburse a fund for their visa, airfare, and insurance as per Government of India norms to the scholar. (This will also be mentioned in the sanction order).

Indian HEIs that expressed an interest in collaborating and whose scholars get shortlisted will share a signed Operational Alliance Agreement with British Council and agree to a specified timeline which will be notified as part of the agreement. HEIs will then release the fund for their selected scholars to cover their airfare, visa, and insurance as per agreed timelines.


Support to PhD Scholars

The Newton-Bhabha PhD Placements program expects that host institutions offer high
standards of supervision, management and mentoring to placement scholars. Applicants must consider the following in their proposals:

  • The standards of supervision, management and mentoring provided by the host institution
  • Experience of the supervisors to train and mentor doctoral scholars to provide the highest quality supervisory support for their doctoral scholars
  • Mechanisms that are in place to assess, provide for and monitor individual doctoral student needs and offer the student appropriate development opportunities
  • Professional and transferable skills training offered to doctoral scholars, including training in the principles of good research conduct in their discipline and in the relevant ethical, legal and professional frameworks
  • Learning and training opportunities available to doctoral scholars to raise awareness of the broader context of their research area, particularly in reference to societal and ethical issues, and the importance of engaging the public with research.
  • UK scholars may explore a list of Indian institutes ranked by Ministry of Human Resource
    Development here: https://www.nirfindia.org/2019/Ranking2019.html.
  • However, this source does the exploration of other relevant institutions. For support in identifying Indian institutes for the aforementioned priority sectors please contact Purti Kohli (see section 13).
  • Indian scholars may contact Universities UK International (UUKi) who is offering matchmaking service to help connect Newton-Bhabha-funded partner country researchers to potential UK partners. Applicants wishing to use this service should complete UUKi’s Partner Request Form. Their partnership request will also be included in UUKi’s Opportunities for Collaboration webpage.

For further information on UK standards for doctoral training, please refer to the Statement of Expectations for Doctoral Training at www.rcuk.ac.uk/documents/skills/statementofexpectationpdf/


British Council – India
Purti Kohli
Senior Project Manager – Higher Education and Society
British Council Division
17, Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi – 110001
Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

DST (INSPIRE Fellows) – India
Ms. Tamanna Arora
Scientist C
Room No. 23, S&T Block III
Department of Science and Technology
Technology Bhavan, New Mehrauli Road
New Delhi – 110016
Ph: 011-26590274; Email: [email protected]

DBT – India
Dr. Amit P. Parikh
Room No. 706 Block 2
Division of International Cooperation,
Department of Biotechnology
CGO Complex, Lodi Road, New Delhi – 110 003
Email: [email protected]

Eligibility Criteria Checklist for Newton Bhabha PhD Placement

  • For UK Scholars – The UK Host Institution must be an eligible research institution or
    recognized higher education institution (list of eligible research institutes is provided
    under call announcement documents)
  • For UK Scholars – Applicants are undertaking their PhD at an eligible research
    institution or recognized higher education institution (list of eligible research institutes
    is provided under call announcement documents)
  • If applying for Life Sciences (other than INSPIRE Fellows), applicants should be in
    the second or third year of your PhD at an Indian institution and meet eligibility criteria
  • If an INSPIRE PhD Senior Research Fellow applying for STEM and Life Sciences
    subjects, applicants should be of batch 2016 and shall upload up to date progress
    report approved by a supervisor at supporting information in an online application format
    The scholar is in the second or third year of PhD research.
  • The application has been submitted by the applicant within the published deadline.
  • The application has been submitted using the correct online application form.
  • The applicant has enclosed the supplementary documents required, including
    confirmation from the host university that they will accept the scholar and support them
    with their research.
  • The application form is completed in full and complies with instructions given.
  • The application form and supporting documents have been completed in English.
  • The applicant has submitted only one application under this call.
  • The home institution is based either in India or the UK.
  • The mobility will take place as per details captured under ’Key Dates ‘of Section 10.
  • The applicant will return to their home institution to complete their PhD after the end of
    the visit (demonstrated via the supporting letter from the institution).
  • The home institution is a recognized publicly-funded research establishment or Higher
    Education Institution (can include private universities).
  • The host institution is a recognized publicly-funded research establishment or Higher
    Education Institution (can include private Universities).
  • The applicant has not received a Newton-Bhabha PhD placement grant in previous

Official Notification

Frequently Asked Questions

List of Eligible UK Research Organisations View (52.82 KB) pdf

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