FAQs: getting to grips with funding

Getting to grips with funding
Finding funding for your postgraduate course can be a major research exercise in itself. Fortunately there are plenty of ways to narrow down your search.

Scholarships and funding are open to application from UK graduates but may also be open to students from elsewhere in the EU. You will need to check with each individual organisation to see if you are eligible to apply to them for funding - some have residence conditions and only fund certain approved courses.

You may be from a region of the UK that has its own exclusive funding scheme, such as the Postgraduate Students' Allowances Scheme for Scottish graduates wishing to study in Scotland. In Northern Ireland, the Education Authority and some government departments offer funding to UK postgraduates wanting to study an approved course in Northern Ireland.

UK research council funding

Funding bodies exist to support different fields of study. For example, The Natural Environment Research Council and the Arts & Humanities Research Council offer funding for postgraduate research projects, as do several other postgraduate funding councils.

There are also a number of independent charities and trusts that offer funding for postgraduate research, especially in the areas of science and medicine.

What if I can't get funding?

If you don't manage to secure funding, other avenues to investigate include professional and career development loans, MBA loans or a government-backed masters loan for students resident in England or the EU. If you are already working, you may be able to persuade your employer to sponsor you if you can convince them that your development will benefit them. You could also consider doing a postgraduate course part time or via distance learning, which could enable you to stay in part-time employment.

How much does it cost to do postgraduate study?

The cost varies widely. Tuition fees range from £3,400 upwards. The average cost of postgraduate tuition fees for UK and EU students (this has not changed since the referendum), including both taught and research courses, is currently around £8,000, and could be twice as high or more for international students. As a rule, clinical courses and MBA courses tend to cost more than classroom-based courses.

The location of your academic institution will also come into play: the cost of living in London or other large cities will be more than in other parts of the UK. Important factors to consider when estimating the cost of postgraduate study include:

  • tuition fees
  • materials used for research (these may not be covered by your tuition fees)
  • rent (visit the council websites of the area you will be studying in)
  • travel
  • general living costs, including food, the internet and utility bills

You should think these costs through carefully, especially if you are considering applying for a loan. Banks will be more willing to give you a postgraduate loan if you present evidence of your financial planning. Universities also offer detailed information on living costs in the area, so contact the accommodation or finance office of your chosen institution to get more information on these.

Is it cheaper to study part-time at postgraduate level?

Eventually you'll be paying the same amount of fees as you would if you were studying full time, so part-time postgraduate study shouldn't be seen as a cheaper ticket. It will help to break up your tuition fee payments, but also means a longer time spent studying.

How do I decide whether to study full or part-time?

It is very much a decision on the grounds of your current circumstances. Can you afford to go straight into full-time postgraduate study? Will it make financial sense for you to be in education for a longer period of time by undertaking a part-time course? These are some of the questions you'll have to consider. It can be helpful to discuss this with friends, family or even your bank manager. Your postgraduate study is an investment in your future and you will need to balance what is financially feasible with your personal goals.