Alternative sources of financial aid

There are various different sorts of grants/awards/studentships and bursaries available (please note that institutions will use different terms to cover widely different funding sources). Although all offer some financial aid, they differ in the amount of money, duration and conditions of issue. Some bursaries may cover manintenance funds of £ 10000 and more, plus fees. Other bursaries may be a one-off payment of £ 500.

It is important to apply for a grant that suits your financial needs. Although any award is helpful, it may not cover the entire amount. Therefore, in some cases, you may need to apply for a combination of scholarships, or combine different sources of funding:

  • Assistantships
    They offer a salary in return for work with an upper limit on hours per year. Duties may include teaching, research or administrative tasks. It is worth checking whether the institution has proper training provision in place to help you carry out such work.
  • Study abroad grants
    These awards enable advanced study or research to be held anywhere in the world as part of a degree tenable at a UK university. When you apply for these, don't forget to cover estimated travel costs, overnight stays, costs of photocopying etc: they all mount up. You need, as a rule, to estimate costs according to the cheapest available travel means and hotels etc, and give detailed costings, to highlight in your application how you have arrived at costs and to mention where you have looked.
  • Travel grants
    These are grants that can be used for conference trips and occasionally field-working too. Check the British Academy website for these types of grants.
  • Awards
    These are usually a one-off payment on a fairly small scale.
  • Career Development Loans (CDLs)
    These are being offered by four banks as a joint scheme with central government. The loan covers either one or two academic years of a course and is designed to help students with their tuition fees. The criteria and information required by the banks is the same, but conditions such as interest rates differ between them. The scheme is open to all students. Career Development Loans
  • EU funding
    EU funding is limited but a good starting point is: http://www.mariecurie.org/
  • Hardship/Access funds
    A university's Hardship Fund is made up of money allocated by the Government to the university to help those students who would otherwise find it difficult to enter or remain in higher education. The fund is available to full-time or part-time home students. European students with 'migrant worker' status are also eligible. Small grants are given to postgraduate students to assist with housing, childcare, and travel costs, costs associated with disability, and exceptional financial difficulties.
  • Hardship loans
    More or less allocated on the same conditions as Hardship funds; however, they are repayable.
  • Getting a job
    This might not be what every prospective student wishes to hear but reality bites. If you have been unsuccessful with your grant applications you might need to consider financing your PhD through working.