Funding postgraduate study – what are your options?
As a postgraduate you have the opportunity to enhance your career prospects, pursue your passion for a subject, and enter a profession that demands a higher level of qualification with a specialised focus. Due to the extra amount of learning and experience undertaken in postgraduate studies, it is understandable why the majority earn more than undergraduates in their given field.
Since many find it difficult to finance their undergraduate studies, it may be an even bigger feat for those looking to fund second or third degrees.
Student loans and grants are available for postgraduate degrees but competition is fierce. There are however, ways and means of funding these studies if you invest some time and make some enquiries. Your starting block is to activate a graduate bank account with a decent overdraft facility, and then take steps to attain extra funds. Here are a few ways you can do this:
The first option to consider is a bursary from a business that could potentially be a future employer or one from a potential university of interest. This is a financial award usually given to students who have proven they are able to produce work of a very high standard, and are encouraged by universities and industry leaders as a proven way of seeking out the best talent in particular fields. Keep in mind that a bursary is one of the toughest ways of getting finance for a postgraduate course and for this reason shouldn’t be relied on to pay for further studies.
For example, The Stationers’ Company, the City of London Livery Company for the Communications and Content industries, offers 10 bursaries to postgraduate students on specific courses relating to their industry. The students each receive a bursary of £6,000 and mentoring from a member of the business during their study period. Once they complete their Masters, they will be presented with an award and it is then expected that they will get a job in the company.
Similar to the bursary is the scholarship; an award which is given based on different criteria. Some scholarships are offered on account of a student’s outstanding academic performance; others are awarded to those who deserve to be part of a further education course but cannot afford it. There are many scholarship schemes at universities across the UK, and it’s worth searching on the Prospects website to see if your chosen university offers a scholarship in your field of study.
A studentship is a postgraduate position that has funding attached for fees, living expenses or both. They’re mainly funded by the UK’s Research Councils. Prospective students wanting a studentship should contact the research organisation at which they wish to study directly.
Some charities and trusts offer grants to students who come from less well-off families and to those who excel academically.
Get by with a little help from your friends (and family)
If you aren’t awarded a scholarship or bursary there are other ways of securing funds for a postgraduate course:
- The first, and most obvious one, is to ask your family for help. A relative may well be willing to lend you money to cover your costs, and many students have financed their postgrad studies this way.
- It may be easier for a parent or working relative to get a bank loan than it is for you. If you did have a bank account during your first years at university and managed your money well, you may find that the same bank is willing to give you a loan to cover the cost of your postgraduate year. Of course there will be terms and conditions, and loans are never cheap.
If you don’t want to take out a loan and your family are unable to help, there is another course of action you can take to fund your studies – get a part-time job. In university towns and cities across the country, shops, pubs and other businesses make the most of the influx of students to fill in their staffing gaps.
While attaining the means to study further could be a difficult task, there are options available which have been set up in order to help people in tricky financial situations. While taking out a loan may seem like the least appealing source of help because of the comparable costs, it is the most likely choice amongst the majority and allows you to further your education and strengthen future prospects.