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Postgraduate Funding Options in the UK

By Guest Writer

Updated March 6, 2016 Updated March 6, 2016

Guest post: Adam Grunwerg

For international students looking to study a postgraduate degree in the UK, the price does not come cheap.

According to the latest figures published by The Complete University Guide, the average cost of a postgraduate degree for a UK or EU student is just under £6,000 a year in 2013-14.  The cost for international students is almost double that, at £11,600 (about US$18,200) a year.

Because of the high price of studying in the UK, international students considering studying here should definitely research what postgraduate funding options are available to them. Read on to find out more…

Where should UK and EU students look for postgraduate funding?

The most common sources of postgraduate funding for students from the UK or another EU country include:

Grants from research councils

There are a total of seven different research councils which provide funding to around 6,000 students per year.  The minimum amount awarded to successful applicants is £13,500 (US$21,000) per year.

University scholarships

The majority of universities in the UK will provide a limited number of scholarships to students.  These can range from just a few thousand pounds up to tens of thousands.  For information on university scholarships, check with the individual university, or use websites such as


Bursaries (basically a type of grant) are also available from public organizations and charities.  For example, the Access to Learning Fund provides up to £3,500 to students.  Usually bursaries don’t need to be paid back.

Funding for teachers, social workers and NHS workers

A number of career-sponsorship schemes have been set up in order to increase the number of skilled workers in certain professions.  For example, students training to be a teacher (PCGE or ITT) may receive a grant or maintenance loan, which covers the entire cost of the course.  The NHS similarly offers a number of bursaries to students in different medical fields.

Employer sponsorship

It might be possible for you to talk with your employer about helping to subsidize your course if you can prove it would be of financial interest to them. Schemes such as the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) can also pay for students looking to obtain a professional management qualification.

Professional and Career Development Loans

Although these are a last resort for most students, if you qualify for a Professional and Career Development Loan, then the government will pay the interest on the loan while you are studying.  You’ll also be able to negotiate your own repayment plan, which should give you more flexibility and a better repayment plan than a regular bank loan.

Where should non-EU students look for postgraduate funding?

If you’re from outside of the EU, you won’t qualify for all of the funding schemes and bursaries available to EU students.  It is strongly recommended that you check what overseas funding is available from sources in your own country first.

Once you’ve checked what type of funding arrangements your government offers for overseas study, you can also check UK-based funding initiatives for international students.

British Council

First, you can check the website to find out about any regional and government funding available in your country.  You can also participate in schemes such as the ERASMUS program if you’re studying in the UK as part of your course.

University funding for overseas study

Again, if you’re only studying in the UK for part of your course, see what funding support your home university can offer. Visit the university website or speak to a financial officer to find out what exchange schemes, scholarships or bursaries are available.

British Chevening Scholarships

Funded by the government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Chevening Scholarships provide funding to both full-time and part-time students.  These are quite competitive; only 1 in 25 applications are successful.

Other scholarship providers

Other scholarship providers offering support for international students in the UK include:

- Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP)

- Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme

- Overseas Research Students Award Scheme

- British Marshall Scholarship (US students only)

- Fulbright Commission (US students only)

- UNESCO and WHO (some schemes for international students)

Adam Grunwerg is lead editor of graduate careers advice and postgraduate study website, where you can learn more about postgraduate funding options in the UK by downloading the ‘Ultimate Guide to Postgraduate Funding eBook'.

This article was originally published in August 2013 . It was last updated in March 2016

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