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Postgraduate funding

If you are planning to do a postgraduate course, you need to think about funding for your course well before you start.

The main sources of funding for UK postgraduate students are:

  • Postgraduate Loan for Masters courses from Student Finance England
  • New Doctoral Loans for PhDs and equivalent postgraduate research programmes from September 2018.
  • University and other scholarships
  • Professional and Career Development Loans
  • Student Loans for Teacher Training
  • NHS funding for certain Health Courses

Further details on these are provided below.

There are also some scholarships available to EU and international students.

The University has compiled detailed information on postgraduate funding, whether you are planning to study for a Taught Masters degree or a Research degree.

The government introduced Postgraduate loans for Masters courses starting on or after 1st August 2016. You can apply for a maximum of £10,250 to help pay for your Masters studies.

More details on Postgraduate Loans including eligibility and how to apply can be found on the government website here.

Postgraduate loans are paid directly to the student, so it is your responsibility to pay the fees to the university and set up an appropriate payment plan.

It is also important to remember that the maximum Postgraduate loan you can get is £10,250 (2017/18 rate), so it is not likely to be enough to cover both your tuition fees and living costs. Therefore, it is important to plan and budget how much money you will need before you start the course and plan how you will make up the shortfall after the Postgraduate loan, whether it be through savings, part time work or other sources of funding.

From September 2018, the government will be introducing Postgraduate Doctoral Loan for new Phd students. Further details are available on the government website. More information will be available on the website, including how to apply as it is released by Student Finance England. Applications are expected to open in Summer 2018.

Some key features of the new Postgraduate Doctoral Loan include:

  • Available from 2018/19 for new PhD students.
  • Worth up to £25,000.
  • For UK nationals resident in England.
  • Study at any UK university that awards PhDs.
  • Repaying 6% of income over £21,000 per year.

To be eligible, you must:

  • be a UK national ordinarily resident in England.
  • be aged 59 or under on the first day of the first academic year of your course.
  • not already hold a PhD or equivalent qualification.
  • not be receiving a Research Council studentship (including fees-only), NHS funding or other government finance towards your PhD.

Again it is a important to remember that the maximum Postgraduate Doctoral Loan you can get is £25,000 for the whole course, so it is not likely to be enough to cover both your tuition fees and living costs. Therefore, it is important to plan and budget how much money you will need before you start the course and plan how you will make up the shortfall after the Postgraduate loan, whether it be through savings, part time work or other sources of funding (Although you are not entitled to the loan if you get any form of Research Council funding).

The University of Sheffield offers over 100 scholarships worth £10,000 each for home students starting a taught postgraduate course in 2018.

The scholarships are for students who meet at least one of the widening participation criteria and/or students who achieve a first in their undergraduate degree. If your application is successful you can use the scholarship towards fees or living expenses.

You can apply for a scholarship if you meet the following four criteria:

  • Studying a taught postgraduate course full-time or part-time for a maximum of four years.
  • Living in the UK or European Union (EU) and not charged international rate fees.
  • Not already qualified at masters level, or higher.
  • Must be self funding - courses fully funded by the NHS or the Initial Teacher Training bursary, or courses that are eligible for undergraduate funding such as integrated masters are not eligible.

And one or both of the following:

For more details on eligibility criteria, application details and the selection process please visit the university webpage here.

There are also a range of other scholarships available from the university and external sources for postgraduate studies. For further details please visit the university scholarships webpage.

Professional and Career Development Loans (PCDL) are bank loans that can be used to fund your Postgraduate study. Your course must only last up to 2 years, or 3 years if they include 1 year of work experience.

If your application is approved, you may be able to borrow between £300 and £10,000.

Loans are usually offered at a reduced interest rate and the government pays interest while you’re studying. You start repaying the loan (plus interest at a reduced rate) 1 month after leaving your course.

Repayments are not based on a minimum income threshold, and you still have to repay your loan even if you don’t complete the course or your course provider goes out of business.

To find out more about eligibility criteria and how to apply please click here.

University of Sheffield offers a postgraduate course in initial teacher training – Postgraduate Diplomas in Education (PGDE). They also offer Schools Direct PGDE.

The fees for both Teacher Training courses are equivalent to undergraduate fees. You can apply for a tuition fee loan from Student Finance England to pay your fees in the same way that undergraduate students can. You can also apply for a Maintenance Loan in the same way.

You may also be eligible for a bursary or scholarship, depending on the subject area that you are training in. You can find more details about this funding on the Department for Education website.

Certain courses such as The Postgraduate Diploma in Nursing and MA Social Work will attract a bursary from the NHS.

From August 2017, the government is phasing out NHS bursaries and replacing the funding with loans from Student Finance England. Please visit the course webpage for up to date details about the relevant funding.

For further information on how this relates to your course, please contact the relevant academic department or a money adviser at the Student Advice Centre.

Postgraduate students who are studying on a course for at least one year are eligible to apply for Disabled Students Allowance.

If you are a home PhD student and you have finished your full time study, you may be able to claim benefits while you are writing up. You must be writing up on a part time basis to claim Jobseekers’ Allowance, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Support or Employment and Support Allowance if you are not fit for work.

Please note: Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support are administered by the Local Authority that you reside in. The above links for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support are for Sheffield City Council, for people living in Sheffield. If you are not living in Sheffield, you will need to apply for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support from your Local Authority.

Most students are simply registered as writing up. You will need to show that you are not required to attend full time if this is the case in order to claim benefits. Your department or the Research & Innovation Services should be able to provide confirmation of this.

Last updated: January 2018