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UK Masters Funding for International Postgraduates in 2018

The UK is one of the world’s most popular destinations for international study, with prestigious universities and a wide range of highly regarded Masters courses.

However, international postgraduate fees in the UK are usually higher than those for ‘home’ students. You might also find that some funding sources aren’t available to you.

Thankfully, there is a wide range of scholarship schemes that are specifically designed to support international postgraduates.

This page explains the kinds of funding available for international Masters students in the UK: from postgraduate loans to government scholarships and overseas exchange programmes.

We can’t list every funding opportunity here, but we’ve done our best to cover most of the main options that might be available to you. We’ve also made sure that all of this information is up-to-date for 2018.

Postgraduate loans for international study in the UK

Postgraduate loans allow you to borrow against the cost of your Masters and pay the money back when you graduate. Lenders can be governments, private banks or other organisations.

There are three different types of student loan for postgraduate study in the UK: UK Government postgraduate loans, Professional and Career Development Loans and loans from the Erasmus+ international study programme.

We’ve explained each of them below.

UK Government postgraduate loans

These are student loans offered by the UK Government.

Students only repay these loans when they are earning a certain amount. Interest rates are also lower than they would be for a typical ‘private’ loan.

All parts of the UK extended student loans to Masters degrees (and some other postgraduate qualifications) in 2017:

These loans are provided by the UK Government to support UK postgraduates. This means that they aren’t usually available to international students.

However, students from outside the UK may be eligible if they meet certain criteria.

EU students

Students from other parts of the EU can take out a postgraduate loan in much the same way as a UK student.

Some restrictions do apply to EU students, however:

  • You must have been ordinarily resident in the EU, EEA or Switzerland for three years.
  • You will normally be required to live and study in the country that offers you a loan. For example: if you wish to study a Masters in England, you should apply for the ‘English’ postgraduate loan from Student Finance England.
  • EU students in Scotland are only eligible for a loan of up to £5,500 for tuition fees.

This eligibility will not be immediately affected by Brexit. EU access to UK fees and funding has been guaranteed across the UK for courses beginning in the 2018-19 academic year.

Other international students

Students from outside the EU won’t automatically be eligible for a UK postgraduate loan. Exceptions may apply if you are eligible to pay home fees.

For example, EEA and Swiss workers (and their families), children of Turkish workers and students with refugee status, humanitarian protection or long-term residence in the UK may be eligible for a loan.

UK postgraduate loans

Looking for more information about the UK's postgraduate loans for Masters degrees? Our guide explains eligibility criteria for UK, EU and international students. We've also put together information on postgraduate loans in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Professional and Career Development Loans

Professional and Career Development Loans (or PCDLs) pre-date the UK Government postgraduate loans, but are still available.

They can offer up to £10,000 for a Masters and aren’t specifically restricted by nationality. However, you will need to have been resident in the UK for three years and be planning to work in the UK, EU or EEA after you graduate.

Other eligibility criteria also apply. Our full guide to Professional and Career Development Loans for postgraduate study has more details.

Erasmus+ loans

Postgraduate loans for courses in the UK are also available through the Erasmus+ programme.

Unlike the UK Government’s own loans, these are specifically intended for students seeking to study a Masters abroad.

They offer up to €12,000 for a one-year course, or €18,000 for a two-year course.

Eligibility and availability

The Erasmus loans are only available to nationals of an Erasmus programme country to study a complete Masters abroad in another Erasmus programme country.

They aren’t offered directly by the Erasmus+ programme itself. Instead loans are provided by participating banks and universities, according to guidelines and guarantees set by Erasmus.

Loans are available from banks in Italy (Emilia Romagne region), Spain and Turkey for students from these countries to study a Masters abroad.

Students from other Erasmus countries can also access these loans to study a Masters in Spain.

Universities in Luxembourg and Cyprus offer loans to students from other Erasmus countries to study there.

Erasmus+ Masters Loans

Our full guide to Erasmus Masters loans explains how this funding works, who is eligible, what you can study and how you'll repay your loan after you graduate.

UK Government funding

The UK Government administers a series of scholarship schemes aimed at funding talented international postgraduates to study in the UK. These include the Chevening programme, Commonwealth Scholarships and Scotland’s Saltire Scholarships.

Chevening scholarships

Chevening is a prestigious UK Government postgraduate funding scheme specifically for international students in the UK.

It offers an annual scholarship competition for Masters programmes, designed to develop international leadership and expertise. Many Chevening alumni have gone on to become highly successful figures in business, industry and politics.

Scholarship value

Chevening scholarships are designed to cover the full cost of studying a Masters degree in the UK, including any additional expenses you may incur as an international student.

You will typically receive:

  • Full payment of Masters tuition fees, up to £18,000
  • Payment of travel to and from the UK
  • Payment of visa application fees
  • A monthly living allowance for accommodation and expenses

The total value of a scholarship is usually around £30,000 over the course of a one-year Masters, but the exact amount will vary depending on your circumstances and requirements.

Entry requirements and eligibility criteria

The prestige and value of the Chevening scholarships programme means that applications are highly competitive.

You will need to demonstrate strong existing qualifications as well as future potential.

Eligibility requirements include the following:

  • You must be a citizen of an eligible country (there are over 140 ‘Chevening countries’, most of which are developing nations in Africa, Asia, South America and Eastern Europe – there are some exceptions, however) and return there for two years after graduation.
  • You must hold an undergraduate degree equivalent to a UK 2.1 (‘upper second-class honours’).
  • You must have two years’ work experience.

Other criteria also apply.

Course eligibility

To receive a Chevening scholarship, your course must be a full-time postgraduate Masters degree lasting up to one year.

You cannot receive a scholarship for a part-time or distance learning course, or for a PhD.

The application process will require you to select three courses that suit your goals. You can choose any combination of institutions and subject areas, but your selections must be eligible UK Masters degrees.

If successful, you will only be awarded a scholarship to study one of your chosen courses. However, you should choose all three options carefully as they may be discussed during your interview.

Application process

Applications for Chevening scholarships normally open in August for courses beginning in the autumn of the following year. The full process involves careful selection based on application quality, interviews and references.

Further application information is available here.

Commonwealth Scholarships

The Commonwealth Scholarships programme is aimed at supporting citizens of the 53 Commonwealth countries (nations that were part of the former British Empire). It’s organised by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC) on behalf of the UK Government.

Over 800 Commonwealth Scholarships are available, but most postgraduate opportunities are provided to citizens of developing Commonwealth countries.

There are three main Commonwealth Scholarship schemes for international Masters students.

Commonwealth Masters Scholarships

These opportunities are offered to citizens of developing Commonwealth countries. They offer support for one-year UK Masters degrees (not including MBAs) at partner universities.

To qualify you must be a citizen of an eligible developing Commonwealth country, a refugee or a British protected person. You must also be ordinarily resident in a developing Commonwealth country.

You should normally apply through a national nominating agency in your home country. You should not apply directly to the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission itself. Applications for the scholarship open in the August of the year before the Masters starts.

Selection will be based on your academic merit as well as the potential benefit of your qualification to your home country.

Successful applicants normally receive:

  • Payment of your tuition fees
  • A monthly allowance for accommodation and living expenses
  • Travel costs to and from the UK at the beginning and end of your course

Additional support may be offered to help cover other expenses associated with your course.

Find out more about Commonwealth Masters Scholarships.

Commonwealth Shared Scholarships

These provide funding for international students who have not studied extensively abroad and would not otherwise be able to study a Masters in the UK.

Unlike the standard Commonwealth Scholarships for Masters study, Shared Scholarships are partially supported by UK universities.

In order to be eligible you must be a citizen of a developing Commonwealth country, a refugee or a British protected person, permanently resident in a developing Commonwealth country.

You must also hold either:

  • An undergraduate degree equivalent to a 2.1 (‘upper second-class honours’); or
  • An undergraduate degree equivalent to a 2.2 (‘lower second-class honours’) plus a Masters-level qualification.

You must also not have studied (or worked) for more than one year in a developed country and not have the means to pay for study in the UK yourself.

You should make your application to a UK university participating in the scheme. They may then put you forward for a scholarship. Note that only certain universities and courses are eligible for this funding.

If successful, you will normally receive:

  • Payment of your tuition fees and other academic expenses
  • A monthly allowance to cover accommodation and living costs
  • Travel to and from the UK at the beginning and end of your course

Other expenses may also be covered, either by the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission, or by your university.

Find out more about Commonwealth Shared Scholarships.

Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships

These provide specific support for international students to study a UK Masters degree while living in their home country.

View a full list of eligible distance learning Masters.

To qualify for a scholarship you will need to be a citizen of a developing Commonwealth country, a refugee or a British protected person, permanently resident in a developing Commonwealth country.

You must also hold an undergraduate degree equivalent to a 2.1 (‘upper second-class honours). Lower qualifications may be considered in some cases.

Universities will offer a scholarship of up to £18,000 to fund your course. This should cover tuition fees and other expenses.

When you apply for the scholarship through the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission’s application system, you’ll need to hold an offer to study an eligible distance learning Masters.

Find out more about Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships.

Scotland’s Saltire Scholarships (SSS)

This programme is organised by the Scottish Government to promote the country as an international study destination.

Funding is available for study at all levels, including Masters degrees. Individual awards provide up to £8,000 per student, for tuition fees during one year of study.

Eligible courses

Masters-level programmes in the following subject areas – at any Scottish university – are eligible for Saltire Scholarships:

  • Science
  • Technology
  • Creative industries
  • Healthcare and medical sciences
  • Renewable and clean energy

You can view guidelines for courses here, including examples of subjects than fall within the above categories.

Your course must also be studied full-time. You cannot receive a Saltire Scholarship for a part-time or distance learning Masters.

Eligible students

To be eligible for a Saltire Scholarship you must be an international student from Canada, India, Japan, Pakistan, the USA or China (including Hong Kong).

You must have an offer to study at a Scottish university on an eligible course and not have previously studied a full Bachelors degree in Scotland.

You must also be able to demonstrate that you can cover the remaining tuition fees and living costs for your Masters yourself (the Saltire Scholarship will only provide up to £8,000).

Application process

Applications for Saltire Scholarships usually open in the spring, for courses in the autumn of the same year.

You must complete an application form available from the SSS website.

Note that you cannot apply without already having an offer to study an eligible Masters at a university in Scotland.

International scholarships

Another way to narrow down your search for Masters funding is to look at specific funding for students from your home country.

There’s a wide range of scholarship programmes that are targeted in this way, aiming to support talented graduates with their studies in the UK. These might be the result of partnerships between the UK and other countries, or part of a broader exchange scheme that encourages students to study abroad.

Here is a selection of countries with funding options in place for their students to study a Masters in the UK:

Australia

Canada

  • Mackenzie King Scholarships are awarded to graduates from Canadian universities wishing to pursue graduate studies, either in Canada or abroad.
  • The Canadian Centennial Scholarship Fund provides support for Canadian students who have already begin a postgraduate course in the UK. Please note that one-year Masters are not eligible for this award.

China

  • BAFTA Scholarships in China offer financial support to Chinese citizens who are studying a postgraduate course in film, television or games at a UK university. The programme is organised by the British Academy for Film and Television Arts.
  • The China Oxford Scholarship Fund supports students from China, Hong Kong and Macau who have been offered a place on a postgraduate programme at the University of Oxford.
  • GREAT China Scholarships provide support for Chinese students to study in the UK. The value of the scholarships varies, but is typically around £5,000 (some institutions and courses may offer more, or less).

    Funding details haven’t yet been confirmed for the following academic year, but you can find up-to-date information at British Council China’s website.

  • The Henry Lester Trust offers grants of around £2,500 per year to Chinese students studying architecture, medicine, computer development or mechanical sciences at postgraduate level in the UK.

Egypt

  • The BP Cambridge Scholarship for Egypt provides funding for Egyptian students to pursue a Masters related to BP’s work in Egypt (i.e. Petroleum Studies, Business, Economics and Development Studies)

Germany

The Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) or ‘German Academic Exchange Service’ is one of the world’s largest and longest-running international exchange and funding programmes.

DAAD maintains a London branch and offers support for UK students to study a Masters in Germany, or for German students to study a Masters in the UK.

You can view up-to-date details of DAAD scholarships on the DAAD website.

India

  • Inlaks Scholarships are awarded to outstanding Indian students on postgraduate courses at several UK universities.
  • Oxford and Cambridge Society of India (OCSI) Scholarships support Indian students at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, offering part-cost scholarship awards towards tuition fees.
  • Oxford-Indira Gandhi Graduate Scholarships are available for Indian students wishing to study Masters programmes in various subjects at the University of Oxford, mainly related to sustainability and the environment.
  • The Felix Scholarship is aimed at underprivileged Indian students, as well as talented students from other developing countries. Scholarships are available at the University of Oxford, the University of Reading and SOAS.

Israel

Mexico

  • The FONCA scholarship programme offers financial support to Mexican students studying creative subjects at postgraduate level.
  • FUNED provides Mexican students with low interest loans and reduced tuition fees at certain foreign higher education institutions.

Russia

  • The Global Education Program is an initiative by the Russian government to support Russian citizens studying at foreign universities.

Saudi Arabia

Singapore

USA

Fulbright Scholarships

The US-UK Fulbright Commission exists to encourage cultural and scholarly exchange between the USA and UK.

Like the DAAD, it offers funding for international study: supporting UK students to study in the USA and US students to study in the UK.

Fulbright Postgraduate Awards can be used to support one year of Masters study at a UK university, offering a tuition fee waiver and a generous maintenance grant (which varies from university to university. Applications open in the April of the year before the proposed Masters is due to start.

Other Fulbright funding is also available. See the US-UK Fulbright Commission website for more details.

Marshall Scholarships

Like Fulbright, this programme also funds American students to study in the UK.

Scholarships are specifically available for graduate (Masters-level) study at a UK university. There is no restriction on subject areas, but certain types of course (such as MBAs) are not eligible.

Scholarships are normally awarded for two years of study, but one-year options are also available in some cases.

Applications are highly competitive and usually open in the autumn for study beginning in the next academic year. More information is available on the Marshall Scholarships website.

Regional scholarships

  • The Saïd Foundation offers scholarships to students from Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan for one and two-year postgraduate courses at UK universities.
  • The Mo Ibrahim Foundation provides promising African leaders with financial support to study at the London Business School, SOAS and the University of Birmingham.
  • Fundacion Beca helps talented Latin Americans study overseas, providing discounted tuition fees and paying for travel costs.

University funding

Individual UK universities also offer their own funding for international students and, with over 150 universities in the UK, we can’t possibly list all of those here.

But what we do do is list the Masters degrees available at those universities – and provide detailed information about them.

Once you’ve found a course that suits you, take a look at the university’s own website (you’ll find a link in our listings). There you should be able to investigate international funding options.

If you can’t see anything, contact the university – politely – and ask if support may be available for someone in your situation.

We’d recommend that you don’t simply send an email asking for funding. Instead, specify the course you’re interested in and make it clear that you’re a genuine student looking for assistance to study it.

Charities and trusts

In addition to the funding sources we’ve already mentioned, there are plenty of charitable organisations and trusts that provide scholarships for talented graduates to study abroad. Here is a selection of organisations that might be well-placed to help you finance your postgraduate opportunity:

  • Gates Cambridge Scholarships are open to students of any nationality (apart from the UK) to study a postgraduate course at the University of Cambridge.
  • The Rhodes Trust runs two scholarship programmes for outstanding international students to complete a postgraduate qualification at the University of Oxford: the Rhodes Scholarship, open to students from one of 64 countries worldwide, and the Global Rhodes Scholarship, open to any country that isn’t already eligible for a Rhodes Scholarship.
  • The Hornby Trust provides scholarships for English language teachers from developing countries to study a Masters in TESOL at the University of Warwick.
  • Article 26 is an initiative that aims to help refugees in the UK access higher education, including Masters programmes.

There are many other sources of postgraduate funding, but most of them are far smaller than the organisations described on this page.

That doesn’t mean you can’t get support from smaller charities or educational foundations: you’ll just have to work harder to find it.

Our guide to postgraduate funding from charities is a good place to start.

Useful resources

Hopefully this page has demonstrated the breadth of funding that’s available to international students in the UK, and pointed you in the right direction to find out more.

If you’re looking for further guidance on studying in the UK, we recommend visiting the following organisations:

  • UKCISA – The UK Council for International Student Affairs is a national body that serves the interests of international students in the UK, providing advice on all aspects of overseas study in the UK.
  • Study UK – Run in conjunction with the British Council, Study UK is the official portal for international students in the UK, offering advice on applications, funding and the practicalities of life in the UK.

The FindAMasters Scholarships

Of course, we can’t end without mentioning our own FindAMasters Scholarship competition.

Every year we provide support for students to study at one of the universities listed on our website, including many in the UK. Our awards aren’t restricted by nationality or subject area and are fully available to international students.

Why not sign up for information about our 2018 Scholarships?

The cost of international study in the UK

Hopefully we've managed to highlight some useful funding opportunities on this page. But how much will your UK Masters course actually cost? We've put together a separate guide to UK Masters fees for international students.

Last updated - 29/10/2018

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