Postgraduate funding tips for UK, EU & overseas students
The financial landscape is looking considerably brighter for postgrad students than it has done for some time with the introduction of postgraduate loans for masters courses and PhD loans in the pipeline.
While that's good news for many, not everyone is eligible or wants to borrow more money, so we've tips to help bridge that funding gap.
1. Cast your net as wide as you can
Despite the financial squeeze of recent years, there are still hundreds of different funding opportunities for postgraduates. The tricky bit is hunting everything down that you could be eligible for.
A couple of hours at the library with a book like The Grants Register and a specialist website like the TARGETpostgrad Funding Database is a great way to start. If you have a university for your postgrad studies in mind, check there too – there are lots of discounts and awards made directly by universities and departments.
2. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
With the recent changes in research council funding, the competition for large awards is stiff. So, don’t just limit your applications to one large generic grant – think creatively and find awards that are a good fit for you.
A series of small awards can bring you as much needed support as one large award, and may be less competitive to boot. When there are so many worthy recipients, you’re much more likely to come out ahead if you’re prepared to do the leg work.
3. Get organised
It can literally pay to be organised. Early payment discounts are a great way to save money, and universities often offer discounts for alumni. But don’t stop there...
Make yourself an action plan with the research you’ve done, and check the fine print of the awards. For some you may need to apply early, while some could be automatically considered along with your course application.
Do leave yourself time to write a proper separate application for each award, properly referencing the funding body. While there will be common elements, no one’s going to be impressed with an obvious copy and paste job.
4. Studying part-time? Talk to your employer...
It is also fairly common for part-time students to work to support their studies. If you are currently working in your field of study, you might also talk to your employer about the possibility of sponsorship or joint funding.
There could also be work at the university, whether this is at a departmental level or offered by central services like the library/student union. Clearly, some are more clued up than others: a great example is ArtsTemps, the University of the Arts London’s in-house temp recruitment agency.
5. Funding isn’t just available for home/EU students
Yes really. There are many funding opportunities either specifically for international students or open to all students, so check the eligibility criteria on each award.