There are fewer options for funding postgraduate study than with undergraduate degrees, but there are still several options available to help pay the costs of your education.
Scholarships and studentships can be given out by a number of different higher education institutes to help fund your studies.
Scholarships are usually reserved for students of poorer income paired with academic excellence. Students must also remember that scholarships are very rare, especially in social sciences and art and humanities degrees.
The funding itself is administrated by six different Research Councils across the country and the Arts and Humanities Research Board. Between these seven, they offer 10,000 studentships each year. However, the competition for this type of awards is always going to be fierce and it is useful for students to know that last year only 10% of applicants received an award from the Arts and Humanities Research Board.
Similar to studentships and scholarships, some Research Councils can offer students Industrial CASE awards; this is where a collaborating body defines its own research project with the Councils consent. There are rewards that are unique to each council and receiving these types of awards will depend on the students chosen subject.
Research Councils can offer awards that cover tuition, living costs, travel expresses, academic material, field work and any other course-related material. The minimum funds are provided by the research council at the moment is £13,590, which is designed to mimic the average starting salary for an undergraduate degree holder. Students in London will be able to claim £2,000 extra and students with disabilities will also be eligible to claim more money.
To be eligible for a full Research Council award you must be a UK resident or an EU national who will be residing in the UK during their full-time study. Applicants will also hold a first-class or upper second honours degree from a UK university; however there have been exceptions to this rule. Students that are from outside the UK but within the EU are still eligible for their tuition fees covered; however Research Councils will not be able to provide maintenance fees.
The most popular types of research funding are as follows:
Advanced Course Studentships - This award is available for Masters-level courses such as MSC and MA.
Research Masters Training Awards- This award will be offered to students studying at a Masters of Research (MRes) level.
Standard PhD Research Studentships - Offered to PhD students and students who are studying a Masters of Philosophy (MPhil)
Collaborative Awards in Science and Engineering (CASE) - This type of funding award is similar to Standard PhD Research Studentships but also involve collaboration with a partner from the industry.
At the moment there is a very limited amount of funding available through state funding. The Department for Education and Skills usually only provide funding help for teacher training. More information can be found on this at: www.dfes.gov.uk/studentsupport/students/
In the case of medical degrees, there is a possibility for the National Health Service to help with funding. Full information can be found here: www.dfes.gov.uk/studentsupport/students/nhs_.shtml
Many charities, foundations and trusts will offer awards for partial funding for students to pursue postgraduate study. Although charities receive a large number of applicants and what with a small collection of money applicants must make an incredibly strong case in order for approval.
Most charity awards will not be able to cover tuition fees and the costs of living like some of the other funding methods. The majority of charity awards offer a few hundred pounds a year, especially if the charity is a much smaller body.
In order to research charity funding further, many of the charities, foundations and trusts that offer funding can be found in these publications, which should be available from most libraries and University Career Centres:
The Grants Resister - Annually published by Palgrave Macmillan
The Directory of Grant Making Trusts - Also published annually by the Charities Aid Foundation
The types of schemes range from studentships, scholarships, grants, bursaries, prices etc. All of these awards however are all issued by different bodies. Some awards several hundred students a year and others make just one.
In some cases students gain the support of an employer. This would be an arranged agreement between you and your employer in
order to help fund your degree. Employers would be particularly interested in these types of deals if the degree were to improve up your skills that you require to do your job efficiently.
Professional and Career Development Loans
For a number of vocational courses professional and career development loans can be taken out on the basis that repayment will be expected by six months after completing the postgraduate course. Career Development loans can offer anything from £300 to £10,000. This loan will cover all course fees and some living costs that will also include travel expenses, child care and any academic material. If you are employed for less than 30 hours a week you can also apply for full living costs, on your application students will be asked to provide how much they pay rent and will be able to allocate you a suitable fund.
All applicants that wish to be considered must be living and training in the UK, and intend on finally working in the UK, EU, Norway, Liechtenstein or Ireland.
Due to the quick six month repayment clause, loans are only usually offered to students they believe will be able to find a beneficial and high paying job quickly after graduating. Students studying subjects such as Law, Business Management and Information Technology will gain priority when applying for a career development loan as employment rates are higher in these subjects.
Students studying for a postgraduate diploma, MSc or PhD are eligible to receive bank loans to help their funding. Currently only NatWest offer a Professional Trainee Loan scheme, but there is set to be more banks offering this type of service in the future. NatWest can offer students up to £20,000 for students that are studying to become a barrister, chiropodist, chiropractor, dentist, doctor, optician, osteopath, pharmacist, physiotherapist, solicitor and veterinary surgeon.
Much like Professional and Career Development loans, NatWest require repayment within the first six months of completing postgraduate study.
If you are living in the UK and will be having disability related course costs during your postgraduate studies you could be eligible for funding support through the Disabled Students Allowance. (DSA) You must be in full time study and the course duration must be at a minimum of one year. Part time students are also eligible for funding providing the duration of the course does not exceed double the amount of the time taken to complete a full time postgraduate degree. The maximum amount that has been given by the DSA to help postgraduate study this year has been £10,260.
You will be unable to apply for a DSA award if you have already received a Research Council award, NHS funding or are already accepted onto a fully paid course.
The DSA are designed to help students with disabilities, mental health and learning difficulties. They help to provide hundreds of students each year with the costs of additional equipment and other help related course funding.
Despite the fact that postgraduate degrees do not come with as fund that is as flexible as undergraduate study, there is a lot of options tailored for students specifically. If students consider their options about their funding early and apply to as many schemes as they are eligible for this should result in at the very least practical funding support being provided.