The NERC offers several scholarships to universities and research organisations directly. These can be of different amounts and serve to benefit research. This can either be a specific problem which must be targeted, or just a more open opportunity.
NERC doesn't handle applications, these will instead have to be addressed to the universities directly. Therefore, the university has the last word. However, NERC only funds PhD studies, so all applicants have to be eligible for a PhD position.