Funding further study

Key Resources

Further study can offer the path to the future you want but one large obstacle may be standing in the way - money.  It's often easier to secure a place on a course than it is to get funding.

Competition for funds can be fierce, but there are a number of options open to those looking to fund further study. 

Funding available through your course provider

Begin by contacting the admissions office for the course you are interested in. Your chosen course may have a quantity of funded places available. Many of these will have been financed by Research Councils or other sources including industry and professional bodies. These organisations do not normally accept direct applications from students so it is likely that you will need to apply through the institution offering the course.

Questions you could ask the admissions office include:

  • Is there funding available for the course?
  • How and when should I apply for it?
  • If funding is not available, how do current students fund themselves?
  • How have previous students funded themselves?
  • Can I study part-time?

Studentships/Research Assistantships

The admissions office should also be able to tell you if there are any studentships available. Studentships vary between institutions and departments but they may offer a maintenance grant and/or payment of tuition fees. Studentships are usually offered for very specific research projects at both PhD and master's level. Studentships at Newcastle University are advertised on the university vacancies pages.

Ask the admissions office if there are research assistantships available within the department. This is a salaried position within the department, with the work being registered for a higher degree, or time allocated to pursue your studies. Conditions and salary vary, so find out exactly what your duties will involve.

Useful resources:

  • FindAPhD - includes details of studentships.
  • jobs.ac.uk - has PhD studentship information.

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Scholarships

Scholarships are not normally expected to be repaid, and can often fund both your study and some living expenses. Because of this they can be extremely competitive. Scholarship awards are based upon various criteria, which usually reflect the values and purposes of the donor or founder of the award, so you may need to study a specific subject, have certain personal characteristics (such as your nationality or gender) or study in a particular country or university.

Most scholarships have strict deadlines so carry out your research well in advance of starting your studies. Check the websites and with the admissions offices of universities you are interested in as they may have a scheme that is not listed here.

Useful resources:

  • FindAMasters - click the scholarships icon in the course descriptions to see available funding.
  • FindAPhD - includes full PhD scholarships.
  • jobs.ac.uk - details of PhD scholarships.
  • Education UK - British Council search engine for scholarships and bursaries.
  • Scholarship-search.org.uk - search for undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships by subject or organisation.
  • Postgraduate Studentships - funding opportunities open to potential postgraduates, at both taught and research level.
  • Postgraduate funding - small grants for postgraduate funding. Includes top-up grants, travel bursaries, exchange programme funding, living cost grants, fee waivers, Masters funding.

Specific scholarships include:  

  • British Council – range of scholarships administered through the British council, with varying eligibility criteria.
  • FindAPhd and FindAMasters scholarships - students wishing to start their postgraduate studies in autumn 2015 at any university listed on FindAPhD.com or FindAMasters.com can register to be in with a chance of winning a £5,000 PhD scholarship or a £5,000 Masters scholarship.
  • Chevening UK government scholarships - UK government’s global scholarship programme, funded by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and partner organisations. Awards outstanding scholars with leadership potential from around the world to study postgraduate courses at UK universities
  • Erasmus Scholarships - any student of any nationality, studying at a higher education institution which is awarded the Erasmus Charter for Higher Education can apply. Apply to your Erasmus+ office to get information about the possibilities of studying or doing a traineeship abroad. Newcastle students can find out more here.
  • Fulbright Awards – for UK students interested in studying in the US.
  • Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme  - based in eight different Hong Kong institutions and aimed at new full time PhD students, irrespective of their country of origin, and ethnic background.
  • UNESCO Fellowships Programme - global scheme designed to offer financial support for people who want to further their education overseas.
  • Commonwealth Scholarships - for UK students who want to study in Pakistan, South Africa and Singapore. Citizens of other Commonwealth countries should contact their national nominating agencies.  
  • Royal Society - provides a range of grant schemes to support the UK scientific community and collaboration between UK based and overseas scientists. Do not provide funding to Masters or PhD students, but offer fellowships to those who are at or above PhD level.

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Other sources of funding
If there is no funding available through the institution consider finding your own funding. There are numerous bodies which will support further study, but some only provide small or partial grants. You should apply early, as the awarding committees may meet infrequently, and investigate them carefully as they can have narrow eligibility. You will need to write a persuasive application letter and CV. You can get help with your application from the Careers Service. You can also attend our careers workshop on How to Write Your CV, which runs throughout the year.

Some charities and grant making trusts may offer funding to support students undertaking postgraduate study. You can find further details in the following publications available in the Robinson Library:

The Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF) is the leading membership association for grant-making charities in the UK. They produce a downloadable leaflet Applying to a Charitable Trust or Foundation and have an extensive list of links to UK Trusts and Foundations.

See also FindAPhd - guide to Funding PhD Study Without a Scholarship - which has advice on applying to a charity or trust for funding.

Other possibilities include:

  • industry/company sponsorship - talk to academics to identify companies with a potential interest in your research or knowledge. You may be asked to work voluntarily for the company that sponsors you.
  • professional bodies - relevant organisations such as the Law Society, and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) may occasionally help students with their postgraduate course funding. Academics and Careers Service staff can help you identify organisations.
  • Local Authority discretionary awards. These are rare and are usually only for vocational courses.

Some universities, including Newcastle, offer financial support to their students. This includes the Access to Learning Fund (UK students) and the Financial Assistance Fund (international and EU students) which are intended for emergencies and unplanned circumstances only.

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Funding for teacher training, social work, medical and healthcare courses

You can apply for funding for:

Graduate-entry medical students can also get support from Student Finance England for fees charged over £3,465.

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Self funding
If you are funding yourself, it will involve making a major financial investment. You might want to consider:
  • part-time study and work - ask the admissions tutor if this is feasible for your course but be realistic about your study commitments
  • a year out - this could be an opportunity to gain relevant experience and earn some money
  • financial support from family members or through 'crowd funding' (Guardian article - 'How to find funding for your PhD').
  • a bank loan - postgraduate/professional studies loans are available from specific banks and loan companies, however, each individual bank will have its own rules and regulations e.g. transferring your account to them
  • Professional and Career Development Loans - a deferred repayment bank loan for learning that enhances your job skills or career prospects.
  • Tax Credits - you may be entitled to Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit. The Student Wellbeing Service can give you guidance on your eligibility for this

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Additional funding resources
  • Prospects offers information on funding further study including information for law students; students with disabilities and international students.
  • TARGETcourses - finding funding for postgraduate study.
  • Directgov - funding postgraduate study.
  • Turn2us - use the grants search facility to search for educational grants.
  • MastersCompare - details of Masters courses with funding.
  • Postgrad.com - includes information on course fees and funding for the UK and mainland Europe.

For further information on funding study abroad see individual country information under Studying abroad on our Finding Courses page.

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