Knowing if you can fund your studying is a key deciding factor when taking a postgraduate degree, especially if you’ve still got a pesky student loan wrapped around your bank account from your undergraduate course.
Searching for the various funding options on university websites is a great way of knowing what you might be eligible for, and could quite possibly help in making your time studying a lot more stress-free.
Sounds good? Then take a read through our guide explaining the different funding opportunities available.
Types of Qualifications
Whether you are studying a taught or research degree, there are various loans and funding options available to you.
The UK government can loan between £10,609 - £11,222 depending on when your course starts. Students on a PhD course can apply for funding, which starts at £25,000.
This covers the average cost of a degree, along with a bit extra for covering things like rent, books and travel costs. You will only be charged interest on it once you get your first payment.
If you have a disability, you can apply for financial support to help pay for things such as special equipment to help aid your studies. Depending on when you start your studies, Postgraduate students can receive a single sum of £20,000 a year.
Many universities offer discount to alumni students who are going back to complete a postgraduate degree. Check on the university's websites for offers they have for returning students as well as any other scholarships and bursaries available.
A Masters degree is a stepping stone from an undergraduate degree, and follows a similar structure of lectures and seminars, while assessments tend to consist of exams, coursework and essays. They last between one and two years, with many universities offering the option of studying on a full or part time basis, or even remotely. Depending on the subject and university, there is also the opportunity to complete a placement year in industry.
Universities often have scholarships and bursaries related to specific subjects, particularly for science and sports based courses.
This is where students might be able to get some extra funding from their university or college if they are experiencing financial hardship. Examples of this includes:
The amount of funding available depends on your circumstance, along with the university. It’s also worth investigating whether your university will be expecting you to pay back the money in installments on a loan basis.
If you achieve a first-class honors at undergraduate level, universities often offer a financial reward when you join to study a postgraduate degree. For example, at Kingston University, the Annual Fund will see students receive a reduction of either £3,000 for full time applicants or £1,500 for part time applicants.
Many charities offer educational funding, normally subject specific or as a result of academic excellence. You can search for scholarships and find out if you are eligible, depending on your chosen programme and/or academic achievements.
Write to a charity or organisation relating to your degree to ask for funding, explaining your financial situation and why doing the course would benefit yourself and others, or the industry.
A PhD is a research intense degree that normally lasts between three to four years. At the end of your research, you will write an in-depth article on your chosen subject, known as a thesis.
The UK Research and Innovation website provides funding opportunities for individuals and groups to undertake and pursue specific research. These include Stephen Hawking Fellowships and the Strategic Priorities Fund.
CASE stands for Corporate Awards in Science and Education. This is when the public sector, charity or UK firm part-fund a studentship in collaboration with the university.
In return, you’ll spend time working at the contributing organisation during your studies, which is also a great way to gain contacts and experience for after you finish your PhD. Charities, organisations and foundations involved include Cancer Research UK, Royal Geographical Society and The British Academy.
If you’re already in full time work, your company may be able to fund your PhD if it’s of value to your career and development within the industry.
Students with outstanding academic results will often have the opportunity to apply for funding, dependent on the university and PhD you’re looking at undertaking. At the University of Surrey for example, there are fully-funded, partly funded and self funded studentships across a number of subject groupings, giving students from all disciplines the opportunity to undertake research in different subject areas.
A PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) is a vocational degree designed to train students in becoming a teacher. Along with classroom based learning, you will go on placements at schools to gain practical experience. You will have the option of choosing a subject specific PGCE degree, such as Physics or Maths, as well as deciding on whether you want to teach at Primary or Secondary level.
Universities often offer funding to students wishing to undertake a PGCE who are in need of some extra financial help. The University of Sussex for example, has a PGCE First Generation Scholars Award, which provides £600 to students from a household with an income of £42,875 or less.
If you’re studying to be a teacher in one of the following, you’ll be able to apply for a subject specific sponsorship to help fund your degree:
The British Council offers £28,000 to outstanding language trainees. To apply for this particular funding, you’ll need a 2:1 or above at undergraduate level, or hold a 2:2 with relevant experience in your subject. To find out more, visit Get Into Teaching.
If you achieve a 2:1 or above in your undergraduate degree, or have a 2:2 with relevant experience, you’ll also be able to apply for a bursary.
Financial rewards vary depending on the subject you’re teaching, along with whether you’re training to study at a primary or secondary school. Physics offers the most financial gain, with PhD trainee students being eligible to apply for £30,000, while students with an undergraduate degree (2:1 or 2:2) will get £25,000. Subjects such as English and History only offer bursaries to PhD students and those who have achieved a 2:1. To find out more, visit Get Into Teaching.
The LLM is a Masters of Law and is internationally recognised, making it possible for graduates to find work anywhere in the world on completion. You will have the opportunity to specialise in a specific area of law, along with working on real life cases throughout the year.
Students who have demonstrated academic merit (normally considered to be a 2:1 or above in your undergraduate degree) are able to apply for extra funding at some universities.
You’ll usually need to complete an application and provide an accompanying statement explaining why you should be given the extra funding. Over at Birmingham University, LLM students can choose from three scholarships to help fund their studies.
Many law firms will fund employers to study a LLM in order for them to progress in the company.
A PGDip (Postgraduate Diploma) is a vocational degree which offers training in a specific field, such as nursing or childcare. They follow a similar structure to a Masters degree with end of module exams and coursework, while lectures and seminars will take place throughout the programme. Typically, they take nine months to complete.
This is when you can apply for funding based on your academic achievements. For example, Kings College University have a funding database where students can search by subject area, country and their type of study.
Companies often offer employees the chance to complete a PGDip if it’s of benefit to the firm and your own career progression.
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