Guidance for applicants and employers on applying to the HSST programme (2021)

Last Updated: 17th March 2021

This guidance contains information for applicants and employers on making an application to the HSST programme.

Before starting your application

Make sure you read the entry requirements information to ensure that you are eligible to apply to the programme. Check you meet the core person specification requirements and make a note of the application deadlines for each stage of the process.

Plan your time. Work out how long it will realistically take to complete the application form.  You will, for example, need to get feedback from colleagues; and that may take time.

Referees should be contacted as early as possible to confirm that they are happy to support the application and provide a reference. No-one will contact your referees until you pass the interviews.

Register on Oriel

You must first register on Oriel, the online application portal. Read the following guidance to get yourself set up as a user on Oriel.

Find and apply to a vacancy

Login to Oriel and via the ‘Vacancies’ menu search for Higher Specialist Scientist Training. Select the vacancy you want to apply for and click ‘To apply’

There will be two HSST vacancies displayed, one for direct entry and one for in-service. Make sure you select the correct one for you. Most HSST places are filled through the in-service route. If you are a direct entry applicant, you can only apply for a direct entry vacancy. If you are an in-service applicant, you can apply for both vacancies, but if you are successful as a direct entry applicant, you would have to give up your current NHS post in order to start the programme. Read about the difference between the direct entry posts and in service posts.

If you are an in-service applicant, your employer will send you a code and you will need this to complete your in-service application form.

About the application form

The application form contains initial screening questions. You must meet the minimum eligibility criteria in order to be able to proceed with the application.

You must provide data for the following:

  • personal
  • academic
  • work experience
  • general employment
  • equality and diversity

You may have already provided some of this data when completing the full registration process. This will be auto-populated within your application form.

You then complete a series of short answer questions to demonstrate your suitability, understanding and motivation for the programme. You will also be asked to choose your specialism. Don’t forget to add any work experience (including voluntary work) to the supporting information section.

You can save and return to your application as many times as you like, before completing and submitting it.

Please be aware that any false declarations will invalidate your application.

Fitness to practise questions

The fitness to practise questions cover things such as criminal convictions. If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions you will be required to provide further information. This must be no later than the closing date and should be emailed to   Please mark your email as ‘confidential’.

If you are successful in the interviews, the information you have provided will be considered by a panel. They will consider whether the information you have provided makes you unsuitable for the programme.

Guidance for applicants with special circumstances

You can be considered under the special circumstances policy if you need to be in a certain geographical area because of one of the following:

  • you are the primary carer for someone who is disabled, as defined by the Equality Act 2010
  • you have a medical condition or disability, and follow-up for the condition in the specified location is an absolute requirement

The guidance below explains how the policy works and what you must do to submit an application.

Guidance for non-UK applicants

Before you make your application visit the UK Visas and Immigration Service  to check whether or not you are eligible to apply. You must also make sure that you have established your right to work in the UK and you must have this in place for the start date of the programme. Please refer to national guidance from Health Education England and UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to confirm whether or not you are eligible to apply.