Postgraduate tuition fees vary from course to course. Usually, they will run to several thousand pounds. There are, however, ways you can go about getting funding for postgraduate courses, whether it is seeking financial assistance or working part-time to pay your way through uni.
Postgraduate funding: Studentships
Some postgraduate positions come with funding attached. These are called studentships. Studentships can cover both fees and living expenses, but there tends to be a lot of competition.
You might also be entitled to a bursary, which is a loan that you will not be asked to pay back.
Postgraduate funding: Healthcare bursarys
Postgraduates studying certain subjects may be entitled to financial help from the NHS. Those in training for medicine, dentistry, social work or other areas of health care may be able to receive assistance which is different to the studentships, as mentioned above. Those eligible to apply must be studying in the UK and normally live in England.
NHS bursary scheme - Those doing a medical or dental course can apply for the NHS bursary scheme. The scheme includes:
A bursary based on your earnings.
Tuition fees paid for by the NHS.
- A Maintenance Loan.
Social Work bursary - Those studying for a career in social work and who are not receiving funding from their employer might be able to apply for this bursary. Check with your university to see if your course is eligible. You will need to head straight to the NHS Business Service Authority to apply.
Postgraduate funding: Teacher training funding
Tuition fees - Those studying a course in Initial Teacher Training may be eligible for loans and bursaries. You will have to pay tuition fees - which vary according to the course and uni - but you may be able to get a tuition fee loan.
Training bursary - Those beginning an Initial Teacher Training Course this year may be eligible for a bursary, depending on what they are going to teach:
Students training to teach biology, combined/general science and modern foreign languages can receive £6,000.
Students training to teach physics, chemistry, engineering and maths can receive £9,000.
Maintenance loan - A maintenance loan may be offered to help training teachers with costs of living.
Maintenance grant - Similarly to a bursary, a grant is a non-repayable loan, designed to help with the costs of living. The grant is means tested.
What if my course doesn’t come with attached postgraduate funding?
Working - You can also do what many postgrads do and earn postgraduate funding by working part-time or using savings.
Studying part time - This is a common postgraduate funding solution for many postgraduate students. It spreads the cost of your postgraduate study and also gives you more time in which to work to pay for it. It does of course mean taking longer to complete your studies, eating up time when you have gained your postgraduate qualification and potentially could be taking advantage of the greater earning power that gives you. There are other options for postgraduate funding that we will go through below.
Finding financial help elsewhere
Postgraduate funding: Uni scholarships, bursaries
There are a number of resources where you can search for postgraduate funding:
Search postgraduate funding on Prospects
Search postgraduate funding on Hot Courses
Contact your uni directly to find out if there are any postgraduate funding opportunities (many have postgraduate funding search database pages such as this one on the Univerisity of Exeter’s website
Postgraduate funding: Region-specific funding schemes
Some regions in the UK have their own postgraduates funding schemes:
Postgraduate Students Allowances Scheme - This is for Scottish graduates who want to study in Scotland
The Department for Employment and Learning, Education and Library Boards offer bursaries to those wanting to study an approved course in Northern Ireland.
UK research councils often offer funding dependent on what course you’re studying. Visit Target Courses for a great list of research council bodies who might be able to give money towards your course.
Postgraduate funding: Employer sponsorship
If your postrgrad course is related to a job you are currently working in, you might be able to get postgraduate funding by way of a sponsor from your employer. Be sure to check with the HR department to see if there are any postgraduate funding schemes that you could apply for. It is more likely that this will occur if you work for a bigger company who have the budget to do so and would immediately benefit from your postgraduate training.
Postgraduate funding: Professional and Career Development Loan
This bank loan enables you to borrow money but pay no interest as you’re studying. It is available through participating banks and enables you to borrow up to £10,000. You’ll start paying the fixed rate loan back as normal once you’ve completed your course and will only start to incur interest a month later. The loan is available for up to two years of study (three if one year includes relevant work experience).
To apply for the Professional and Career Development Loan, you must:
Be at least 18 years of age
Have lived in to UK for at least three years
Intend to work in the UK, EU or the EEA.
To apply for a Professional and career Development Loan, call Next Step (0800 100 900) for an application pack or head to your bank. Barclays and The Co-operative Bank both offer loans of this kind.
Postgraduate funding: Grants from charities
Many charities and trusts provide postgraduate students with grants. Often, financial help is reserved for students from poorer backgrounds, or for those who’ve achieved academic excellence.
These are unlikely to cover the entire course but it is definitely worth checking to see if you can get some financial help. Search using hot courses or check the following resources to learn about other potential options:
The Directory of Grant-Making Trusts (Directory of Social Change)
The Grants Register: the Complete Guide to Postgraduate Funding Worldwide (Palgrave Macmillan Ltd)
The Educational Grants Directory (Directory of Social Change)
Postgraduate funding: Disabled Students’ Allowances
Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) are grants for those with a disability, health condition or learning difficulty. These grants are paid on top; for things like specialist study equipment; helpers (eg a reader) and travel costs; and do not have to be paid back.
You can apply for a DSA if:
You are doing an undergraduate or postgraduate course (including long-distance learning).
You and your course meet certain conditions. (Check here before applying).