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UK Masters Funding for International Postgraduates in 2017

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 are 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 2017.

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 in 2017: 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 will extend student loans to Masters degrees (and some other postgraduate qualifications) in 2017:

  • England began offering Masters loans of up to £10,000 in 2016. Their value will increase to £10,280 in the 2017-18 academic year.
  • Wales will offer its own Masters loans of up to £10,280 for the 2017-18 academic year.
  • Scotland will offer loans for taught postgraduate courses of up to £10,000 in from the 2017-18 academic year.
  • Northern Ireland will offer postgraduate tuition-fee loans of up to £5,500 for courses up to Masters level.

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 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 2017-18 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 new postgraduate loans for Masters degrees? Our guide explains eligibility critieria 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 €9,000 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, according to guidelines and guarantees set by Erasmus.

As of 2017, Erasmus loans are offered by banks in Spain, France, Turkey and the UK. They are available for students to travel to or from these countries, for postgraduate study.

This means that nationals of other Erasmus Programme countries can apply for a loan from a participating UK bank. Students from Spain, France and Turkey can also apply for a loan offered by participating banks in their own countries.

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..

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 (most, but not all, of these are developing countries in Africa, Asia, South America or Eastern Europe) 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

In order 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 in the following autumn. 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 52 Commonwealth Countries (countries that were part of the former British Empire). They are organised by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC) on behalf of the UK Government.

Around 900 Commonwealth Scholarships are available, but most postgraduate opportunities are provided to citizens of developing Commonwealth countries. You can view a list of these here.

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

Commonwealth Scholarships for Masters study

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.

In order to be eligible you must be a citizen of a 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 2018 competition will open in August.

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 any other expenses associated with your course.

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.

Full eligibility criteria are available here.

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.

Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships

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

You do not apply for these scholarships directly. Instead your university nominates suitable courses and students.

The best way to find out if a course is eligible is to search for a suitable distance learning Masters in the UK and inquire with the university.

In order to be eligible to benefit from 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 should also hold an undergraduate degree equivalent to a 2.1 (‘upper second-class honours). Lower qualifications may be considered in some cases.

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

GREAT India Scholarships

As their name suggests, these provide support for Indian students to study in the UK. Awards are available for 169 postgraduate courses across the UK in 2017.

Scholarships are allocated to specific Masters programmes at individual universities, some of which may have more than one award available.

Their value varies, but is typically around £5,000 (some universities and courses may offer more, or less).

Participating universities in 2017

The following table lists universities offering GREAT India scholarships for postgraduate study in 2017.

Note that not all courses at these universities will have funding allocated to them. Once you have found a course that interests you, you should check its eligibility in the 2017 GREAT scholarships prospectus.


Universities with GREAT India Scholarships in 2017
Anglia Ruskin University Arts University Bournemouth University of the Arts London Bangor University Birkbeck, University of London
University of Birmingham University of Cambridge Cardiff University University of Central Lancashire Cranfield University
De Montfort University Durham University University of East Anglia University of Edinburgh Edinburgh Napier University
Glasgow Caledonian University Goldsmiths, University of London University of Kent University of Leeds London Business School
University of Manchester Newcastle University University of Nottingham Nottingham Trent University University of Portsmouth
Queen’s University Belfast Queen Mary University of London University of Reading Robert Gordon University Royal Agricultural University
Royal Holloway, University of London Sheffield Hallam University University of Southampton University of Stirling St George’s, University of London
University of Surrey Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance University of Warwick University of Westminster University of York

Goa Educational Trust (GET) Scholarships

This is another funding scheme offered to Indian students. Unlike the GREAT Scholarship scheme, GET Scholarships are specifically for Masters study and are potentially available for all UK courses.

The programme was initially offered to Goan students, but is now available to all Indian postgraduates studying a Masters at any UK university.

The value of awards varies, but scholarships will normally cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Eligibility

In order to apply for a GET Scholarship in 2017 you will need to be an Indian national, resident in India at the time of your application. You will also need to be under 30, with a strong academic record.

Your course must be a UK Masters programme beginning in autumn 2017 (with a September or October start).

Application process

You should apply using the application form available on the GET Scholarships website. This can be submitted online, or by post.

You will need to supply evidence of your nationality and existing qualifications, as well as two references.

The deadline for 2017 applications is 10th May.

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 £4,000 per student, for tuition-fees during one year of study.

Eligible courses

There are no specific restrictions on courses or subjects: all Masters degrees at Scottish universities are potentially included.

However, the SSS scheme is primarily designed to support ‘priority sectors’ in creative industries, life sciences, technology, financial services and renewable energy. Selecting a course in one of these areas may help support your application.

You can view guidelines for courses and subject areas here.

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

Eligible students

In order to be eligible for a Saltire Scholarship you must be an international student from Canada, India, Pakistan, 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 £4,000).

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 funding and exchange programmes

Many countries have ongoing educational partnerships with the UK. These support students to study abroad and often provide funding as well as advice and application services.

If your country maintains such a scheme you may be able to access international Masters funding through it.

We’ve picked some of the main schemes here, but this list isn't complete. If you can’t see a suitable option here, consider contacting an embassy in your home country.

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

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.

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 grant of up to £12,950 for courses in the 2018-19 academic year. Applications for this cycle will open on April 3rd 2017.

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.

Other sources of international funding

We’ve tried to provide as much information as possible on this page. But, of course, the funding options available to international postgraduates in the UK are more extensive than we can cover in full.

What we can do is summarise some of the other options that may be available to you – and help you get started in your wider search.

So, if the funding described so far on this page isn’t suitable to you, we’d suggest looking at the following options:

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.

Support from charities, foundations and trusts

There are many 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 alternative postgraduate funding is a good place to start.

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 2017 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 - 28/02/2017

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