STP 2022 In service applications guidance

This guidance is for current NHS employees who wish to apply for the Scientist Training Programme while retaining their substantive post and employers wishing to put forward an existing employee.


The Scientist Training Programme (STP) is a three-year integrated post-graduate programme including a commissioned master’s degree in clinical science and completion of a work-based training portfolio plus a synoptic final assessment. On completion, the learner can apply to the Health and Care Professions Council for registration as a Clinical Scientist.

Existing NHS staff working in a recognised scientific specialty can enter the STP and complete the training in their current workplace.  They are referred to as ‘in-service’ trainees. Existing employees can also apply for a ‘direct entry’ training post but would need to resign from their current post if successful. Direct entry trainees are selected through a national recruitment process led by the School and successful candidates are employed on three-year fixed term training contracts.


Principles for the in service route

Admission to the in service route is administered by the School.

To be eligible for the STP, the in service applicant must meet one of the educational requirements:

  • a 1st or 2:1 in either an undergraduate honours degree or an integrated master’s degree, in a pure or applied science subject. The degree subject must be relevant to the specialty for which they are applying. Science degrees related to medicine may also be considered suitable for some of the specialties
  • a 2:2 honours degree in any subject PLUS a higher degree in a subject that is relevant to the specialty they wish to apply for

They must also match the person specification for the role.

In-service applicants need the support of their employer in consideration of current and future workforce needs. They do not have any choice of post location or specialty. They can only apply for the training place for which their current employer is sponsoring them. The employer will provide confirmation of support and we will give the employer an in-service application code to pass onto their nominated applicant. The applicant must enter this code when applying for the post. All applicants must send copies of qualifications throughout the application window to ensure eligibility. Any applicant who does not meet the entry requirements will not be able to proceed with the recruitment and selection process.

In-service trainees remain in full-time employment in their department for the duration of the training.  Salary support is provided by Health Education England (HEE). Further contact details can be found on the HEE website.

The master’s degree is provided by one of the universities commissioned by HEE. Most of the specialty programmes are provided by only one university and no alternative is offered.  In a small number of cases more than one university provides a specialty and, in these cases, employers may state a preference. However, employers and trainees do not have the final choice; HEE will allocate the university place. HEE pays the full cost of the master’s degree.

Non UK applicants

Applicants relying on non-UK qualifications will need to provide UK ENIC equivalence. Further information is available on the UK ENIC website.


In service conditions

An in service applicant must:

  • be part of the planned workforce numbers required for training, and have occupied an existing NHS salaried post, within the same department as the training post, prior to training
  • have permission from their employer to undertake the required academic and work-based training requirements
  • have been selected by the employing department – the department must be satisfied that the applicant matches the person specification for the role and meets the entry requirements
  • apply and be allocated through the national recruitment process – they will not go through a shortlisting process as they are not in competition for their nominated post
  • be trained in a department accredited by the School as an STP training provider
  • be assessed using an e-portfolio and/or any other monitoring and quality assurance processes used by the School
  •  sit the synoptic final assessment as set by the School
  • complete the postgraduate academic programme

Internal selection process / interview

In service applicants do not go through longlisting or shortlisting because they are already substantive NHS employees and have therefore gone through recruitment and selection processes for their current posts.

For recruitment 2022 the School will not interview in-service applicants. All applicants who meet the requirements and are sponsored by their department will be accepted on the programme. The employer will therefore need to provide written confirmation of that they have carried out appropriate local recruitment and selection against the person specification.

Employers must email the recruitment team at confirming that they have conducted a local interview and that, in their professional view, the applicant meets the person specification.  Please ensure the email includes the name of the applicant and the details of the post and is sent by a senior manager in the department. The School will then issue the in-service application code.


Considerations for the employer

The following points should be used as a checklist for employers and commissioners prior to agreeing in-service training places.

The employer must confirm:

  • The applicant meets the entry requirements as specified on the School website.
  • Continued employment of the applicant during the training (still subject to NHS terms and conditions). If the trainee was previously employed at a level higher than the AfC Band 6 required by the nationally recognised job description, the local employer is responsible for considering any issues of pay protection for the duration of the training.
  • Awareness of the programme requirements and management of any HR, rota or staffing issues caused by the applicant’s attendance at university and/or their participation in any required rotations.
  • That the applicant’s assessor/supervisor/s attend an approved train the trainer programme, that they have the capacity and time to undertake the role, and that the department has the facilities needed to deliver all the required learning outcomes – either from their own resources, or in partnership with others.
  • Release of the in service trainee from clinical service for study and training as appropriate, in order to provide equity with the training experience of the direct entry trainees.
  • That internal processes for providing access to training and development opportunities are fair and equitable in accordance with local HR policies.
  • That the training forms part of their overall commissioning and workforce plans, and that the applicant is an existing member of the workforce (not employed solely to undertake the training).
  • That if unsuccessful in the admissions process, the applicant will remain in their substantive post – or employed according to the terms of agreement made with their employer for this eventuality. If as a trainee they fail to progress successfully and have to leave the training programme early, they will return to their substantive post, or employment according to the terms of the agreement made with their employer in accepting the training place.

The employer should establish an agreement with the applicant on these points before the applicant is put forward for the training programme.


Considerations for the applicant

The applicant must:

  • be aware of any potential additional cost to themselves associated with undertaking the programme, for example travel and subsistence if on placement away from their normal work location
  • be aware of the application and admissions criteria and processes with which they will need to comply and that their training place is dependent on these criteria being met
  • be aware of the probable provider of the academic programme and have obtained confirmation from the provider that their qualifications meet the admissions criteria of the provider.  If the university does not accept that the applicant’s qualifications meet the entry requirements, the application cannot proceed

Applying to the programme

Please ensure you read all relevant applicant guidance available in the STP applicants section and read all important documents relating to the STP application process before commencing your application. Key dates for all deadlines are also available.

Your application will require:

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

You will also be required to complete a set of questions as supporting information to demonstrate your suitability for applying to the programme.

You are not required to choose a location as you are only eligible to apply for the post that has been sponsored by your current employer. You will still be expected to select your preference (ie. your scientific specialty) as a part of the application process. Throughout the application, in service applicants will be asked to confirm the employing organisation. You will also be expected to email copies of your academic qualifications to before the closing date e.g. your degree certificate.

If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the ‘fitness to practise’ questions you will need to send supporting information to before the closing date. Make sure that you answer these questions correctly as your application could be rejected if answers are wrong.


What happens next?

You will be accepted on the programme provided:

  • you have satisfactorily completed all sections of the application
  • we accept that you meet the minimum academic requirements
  • your employer confirms to us that you have undergone a local selection process and that they consider you meet the person specification
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Last updated on 23rd March 2022