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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 from your undergraduate course. However, it can be confusing finding out what options are available for your educational ambitions. It’s well worth doing, though. Taking the time to research the funding that you might be eligible for can help make applying for your course much less stressful. To help you with this, we have put together a handy guide to funding options for a variety of postgraduate qualifications.
A master’s degree follows a similar structure to most undergraduate courses, featuring 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-time or part-time basis, or even remotely.
Introduced in 2016, the Postgraduate Master’s Loan was created to help postgraduate students afford further education. For master's courses starting after August 2022, students can get up to £11,836 to pay for course fees and living costs, and will only start to be repaid once the student is earning over a certain threshold. Eligibility requirements for the Postgraduate Master’s Loan can be found on the gov.uk website.
The LLM is a master’s level degree in law that builds a student’s legal knowledge and can help them to specialise in a certain area that interests them. It’s an internationally recognised qualification, making it possible for graduates to find work anywhere in the world on completion.
As the LLM is a master’s level degree, students looking to study may be eligible for the Postgraduate Master’s Loan to help cover the tuition fees and living costs associated with studying.
The LLM is regularly taken by people who already work in the legal sector and have a base of knowledge or an undergraduate degree in the subject. To help build skills and expertise, law firms may fund employees to study for an LLM. Students will usually have to make a business case for doing this, though some companies have established schemes for paying for employee training and education.
The Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) focuses on key aspects of running businesses and can be used to specialise in areas like finance, HR, marketing and more. These degrees will often be taken by people looking to develop their business skills or further their career in executive and managerial positions.
Postgraduate Master’s Loan
Similar to the LLM, the MBA is a master’s level degree, and students may qualify for the Postgraduate Master’s Loan to help them cover the costs of tuition and living expenses.
A PhD is a research intense degree that normally lasts between three to four years. Unlike taught master’s degrees, PhDs don’t involve very much contact time with lecturers, with most of the hours spent researching the topic independently. At the end of the research project, students will write an in-depth article on the chosen subject, known as a thesis.
Introduced in 2018, the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan is similar to the Postgraduate Master’s Loan. For courses starting after August 2022, students can get up to £27,892 to pay for their PhD’s tuition costs and living expenses. This loan only needs to start being repaid when the student has begun earning over a certain threshold.
There are research councils in the UK that will provide studentships to pursue a PhD for specific research. This is because the results of PhDs can push the subject forward and make important discoveries in the field, so it’s in the interest of the councils to help the students with their work. The funding for the research is overseen by UK Research and Innovation.
Similarly, there are charities, companies and universities who will also offer grants to students to help them pursue PhDs in certain subjects to support and improve their respective fields.
A PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) is a degree designed to train students in becoming teachers. Along with lectures and projects, students will go on placements at schools to gain practical experience. Students have the option of choosing a subject specific PGCE degree, such as physics or history, as well as deciding on whether they want to teach at primary or secondary level.
The tuition fee loan from the government for students studying a PGCE course is paid directly to the university, similar to how undergraduate degree loans work. PGCE students can also receive a maintenance loan of up to £12,667 to help with living expenses while studying. These loans only need to be repaid when students are earning over a threshold amount.
Students studying to become a teacher in subjects where there is a shortage of teachers can receive a scholarship or bursary to help them fund their studies. These grants do not need to be repaid, though there are eligibility requirements for each of them, which can be confirmed on the government’s Get Into Teaching website.
The subjects in which bursaries are available are...
|Design and Technology||£20,000|
The subjects in which scholarships are available are...
|Chemistry||£29,000||The Royal Society of Chemistry|
|Computing||£29,000||BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT|
|Maths||£29,000||The Institute of Mathematics and its Applications|
|Physics||£29,000||The Institute of Physics|
|Languages*||£27,000||The British Council|
*French, German and Spanish only
Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) and Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) are vocational degrees which offer training in a specific field, such as nursing or childcare. They follow a similar structure to a master’s degree, though they are typically shorter than a master’s course and do not include a dissertation.
Many PGDips and PGCerts can be used to reskill or retrain in certain fields, which employers may be willing to fund if there is a business benefit to this. Students may have to present a business case for funding their education to their employer, or there may already be a scheme in place to do it.
Alongside the funding options for specific qualifications, there are a few opportunities available to students for most if not all types of postgraduate qualification.
Universities and institutions offer a variety of scholarships and bursaries to students to help them afford tuitions fees, course materials and living costs. This can come in the form of deductions to tuition fees or as a sum of money. An advantage to scholarships and bursaries is that they do not need to be paid back.
Getting a scholarship can be a competitive process, while bursaries will open to any student that qualifies for them. Universities will often have a selection of these available for a variety of reasons. For example, some of these will apply only to specific subjects, while others will only be available to students who achieved high grades in previous courses.
A lot of universities will also offer discounts to tuition fees for students who have previously studied at the institution and are returning to for their postgrad.
The Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) was created to support students cover disability-related costs of studying at university. This can include travel expenditure, specialist equipment, non-medical helpers and more. In the 2022 to 2023 academic year, students can get up to £25,575 via the DSA, which does not need to be paid back.
Students may have to take a needs assessme nt to work out what help they will need before the DSA is paid.
Students might be able to get some extra funding from their university or college if they are experiencing financial hardship. The amount of funding available to students will depend on their circumstances. It’s worth investigating whether your university will be expecting you to pay back the money in installments on a loan basis.
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