Guidance

Thinking of applying to the HSST?

Last Updated: 17th September 2020

The Higher Specialist Scientist Training (HSST) programme is a bespoke five-year workplace-based training programme supported by a Doctoral level academic award. Are you thinking of applying? If so, this guidance is for you and will answer all the common questions for applications.

What are the eligibility requirements?

Entry to the HSST programme requires that candidate’s have registration (or eligibility for registration and an application underway) with the HCPC as a clinical scientist. Candidates may also have a further year in the workplace to consolidate and enhance clinical scientific skills, learning and experience (including research and education) and are required to demonstrate through interview the ability to meet any additional specific selection criteria required for a particular specialism.

HCPC registration

If you are appointed to the HSST programme but are in the process of applying for equivalence and/or registration and have not yet achieved it, you may not start the programme until your registration with the HCPC is complete. You will need to make sure that you have started the process of equivalence and/or registration at the time of your application. If you are invited to interview you will be asked to produce evidence of HCPC registration or that the process for registration is underway.

If you have yet to achieve clinical scientist registration, as a minimum you will have to be registered with the Academy for Healthcare Science (AHCS) and a process of equivalence underway with them at the time of application.

Please be aware that confirmation of equivalence can take several months to complete and may require submission of significant amounts of evidence. It is very important that you start this process as early as possible so there is sufficient time to gain registration by the intended start date for the programme, as failure to do so may impact on your ability to commence and continue on the training.

Frequently asked questions

Is there an age limit for applying to the HSST?

There is no age limit for the programme.

How do I find out if I have the right to work in the UK?

Where possible you must establish your right to work in the UK before applying. If you require a tier 2 visa to work and train in the UK as a healthcare scientist, we strongly advise you to visit www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk for the latest information.

What level of english language competency is required?

It is essential that you have the communication skills to enable you to perform the role effectively and to assure the delivery of safe service to patients. There are a number of ways you can demonstrate that you meet the English language requirement:

  • be a national of a majority English speaking country or have worked in an organisation/institution where English was the primary language used for communication
  • pursued as part of your education in the UK
  • hold a degree or relevant educational qualification that was taught in English by a recognised institution abroad
  • pass an English language competency test

Applicants whose first language is not English will also be required to satisfy the Higher Education Institution (HEI) that they have the necessary knowledge of English to meet the entry requirements to enrol on to the doctoral programme associated with the HSST programme.

Individuals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who make an application under Tier 2 of the points-based immigration system will be required to demonstrate their English language ability as part of the visa application process. You will therefore need to provide evidence that you have passed an appropriate test listed by the Home Office.

If I have not previously trained in the UK what information do I need to provide?

You must be able to demonstrate they you are able to achieve the standards of proficiency outlined for Clinical Scientists by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

How can I get my previous experience recognised and apply for registration with HCPC as a clinical scientist?

If you are applying for a HSST post and are not already registered with the HCPC as a clinical scientist you must apply for a Certificate of Equivalence through the AHCS. The AHCS provides assessment of the equivalence of people’s existing qualifications and experience against the outcomes of the Modernising Scientific Careers programmes. The Certificate of Equivalence confers eligibility to apply for appropriate registration e.g. statutory registration with HCPC as a Clinical Scientist. Further details of the application process can be found on the AHCS website. Applicants for HSST who are not registered as a clinical scientist with HCPC are advised to start the process of seeking equivalence at the same time they apply for the programme in order to offer sufficient time to complete all equivalence activities prior to commencement of the programme.

What if I already have a doctorate or I have undertaken leadership or management programmes?

Higher Education Institutions (HEI) have agreed that there will be a process to recognise prior academic learning (APL) where this is appropriate, although university regulations do not allow research or dissertations submitted previously for a degree to be used in submitting for another.

If you already hold a Ph.D. which is recognised by the NSHCS as both timely and relevant to the trainee pathway, you may choose not to undertake the research component of the doctoral programme. However you will then not be eligible to receive the full award of DClinSci but will be eligible for the award of Postgraduate Certificate in Leadership and Professionalism and a certificate of completion of HSST.

What is the difference between direct entry posts and in service posts?

Direct entry are new posts created specifically for the purpose of training and open to competition by application. Applicants follow the whole programme full-time (except for any exemptions) during which they hold a fixed-term five year training contract of employment with the host organisation.

In-service are existing clinical scientist posts that are used by employers to support nominated individuals for HSST (as long as they reach the entry standard for HSST). They must hold a substantive contract of employment in the NHS specialism for which they are applying.

Do I have to apply for the in service posts via the online application portal Oriel?

Yes; you are still required to complete the application and demonstrate that you have the support of your employer, and the skills and experience required.