Special Research Fund - Cofunding for Chinese PhD candidates holding a CSC-preference scholarship 2024

Ghent University has entered into a cooperation agreement with the China Scholarship Council (CSC) to promote Ghent University as a host institution for Chinese PhD students. This cooperation agreement will span five years from 30 november 2023 to 30 november 2028.

Within the framework of this agreement, Ghent University and CSC will jointly finance 50 new CSC PhD students annually. Students selected under this preference program will be exempted from paying tuition, bench fees, or any other study-related costs at Ghent University. Additionally, the selected students will receive a small top-up scholarship of 170 euros per month from Ghent University, supplementing their CSC scholarship to ensure a total monthly income of 1520 euros (following the Ghent University policy on recommended financial support for PhD students).

Each year, Ghent University and CSC will select 50 PhD students who opt for Ghent University as their host institution and aim to earn a PhD degree either at Ghent University or through a Joint (or double) PhD program between Ghent University and their home university.

A Joint PhD degree (also known as a joint doctorate or co-tutelle doctorate) is a doctoral degree awarded by two or more institutions, sharing supervisory responsibilities and coordinating the PhD candidate's research trajectory, culminating in a jointly administered examination process.

It's important to note that exchange or visiting PhD students, who are enrolled as PhD students at a Chinese university and intend to obtain their PhD degree solely from their home university in China, are ineligible to apply under the Preference Program. However, these exchange students can apply for a personal CSC scholarship with the support of a Ghent University supervisor. Students with a personal CSC scholarship are not entitled to the benefits provided to CSC PhD students under the preference program (such as fee waivers and the top-up scholarship).

This preference program is open exclusively to freshman PhD students, i.e., first-year PhD students who have not yet received a CSC scholarship and max. one year enrolled as PhD student at Ghent University.

1. Find a Ghent University Supervisor:

Before applying for the CSC scholarship, all candidates must secure a formal commitment from a Ghent University professor who will serve as their personal PhD supervisor.

  • Students seeking a Ghent University professor can explore the list of faculties and available research topics on the Ghent University research directory. Professors at Ghent University have the autonomy to decide on accepting prospective PhD students.

2. Initiate the PhD Admission Procedure:

Candidates applying for the Preference Program at Ghent University should, in collaboration with their supervisor, commence the admission procedure to secure acceptance as future PhD students before the specified deadline at Ghent University (January 17, 2024).

  • Once accepted by a Ghent University professor, students must request their future supervisor to initiate the online admission process for PhD candidacy as soon as possible. The admission procedure must be started before the Ghent University CSC preference program deadline (January 17, 2024).
  • Although the admission procedure does not have to be completed by the Ghent University deadline, it must be finalized before the CSC scholarship application deadline in China (March 2024).

Academic admission will be evaluated based on the candidate’s qualifications and academic performance, as well as the proposed research topic (which must comply with EU Regulation (EU) 2021/821 on dual use).

3. Submit a Preference Application to Ghent University

Candidates interested in the Preference Program (CSC) must apply to Ghent University for the program before submitting their preference application to CSC.

  • Deadline for Ghent University Preference Program: January 17, 2024
  • Application forms, in English, should be electronically submitted via email to BOFapplication@ugent.be. Please ensure that the Ghent University supervisor is included in the email either as the sender or in CC before the given deadline.
  • Future joint/double degree students should include a statement from their Chinese home university with their application. This statement confirms the Chinese university's willingness to negotiate a future joint PhD partnership agreement with Ghent University, the Chinese university, the PhD candidate and the PhD supervisors (one at each institution). Such an agreement is required for a joint/double PhD degree.
  • Additionally, the Ghent University supervisor must email a separate questionnaire on the ethical and biosafety context of the proposed PhD research (available on the website).

4. Submit a Preference PhD Application to CSC (after admission as a Ghent University PhD student)

Upon the finalization of the admission procedure at Ghent University, the Ghent University student administration will email a Letter of Admission (LOA) to the student.

  • This letter must be included in the CSC application, confirming to CSC that, if selected for the CSC preference scholarship, the student will be welcome as a PhD student at Ghent University. It will also confirm that CSC preference scholarship students are exempt from additional study costs at Ghent University (i.e., tuition and bench fees). Additionally, the letter will specify the expected duration of the PhD study (4 years on average) and the language of instruction (English for international PhD students).
  • Deadline for CSC Preference Program: March 2024 (please check the CSC website for exact dates).


  • Deadline Ghent University preselection : 17 January 2024
  • Deadline CSC preference programme: March 2024, please check the CSC website for exact dates


  • The selection result will be jointly announced by Ghent University and CSC. It is expected to be announced in the 2nd or 3rd week of June (please refer to the CSC and Ghent University websites for updates).

Starting Date

  • The earliest starting date will be September 15, 2024.

Contact & information

  • For inquiries regarding the Ghent University - CSC Preference Program, please contact: BOF@UGent.be

For further details on Ghent University doctoral supervision and support, visit:


Scientific report