UK Masters Funding for International Postgraduates in 2024 – A Guide |

UK Masters Funding for International Postgraduates in 2024

Written by Mark Bennett

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. There aren't any student loans for international students in the UK per say, unless you're from the EU/EEA and have pre-settled status or indefinite leave to remain then you may be eligible for the UK Government Masters loan. It's always worth checking your status with UKCISA.

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

This page explains the different kinds of postgraduate scholarships for international Masters students in the UK. We’ve also covered the instances in which overseas students may be eligible for a postgraduate loan from the UK government.

We can’t list every postgraduate funding opportunity for international students 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 2024.

UK Government funding

The UK Government administers a series of UK Masters scholarships 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 covers full payment of your Masters tuition fees, travel and visa costs, as well as a monthly living allowance.

For more information on eligibility criteria and the application process, please read our guide to Chevening Scholarships.

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.

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.

GREAT Scholarships

The GREAT Scholarship programme is a joint initiative between the UK Government and the British Council, offering scholarships of at least £10,000 for students from the following countries to study a Masters in the UK:

  • Bangladesh
  • China
  • Egypt
  • Ghana
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Kenya
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • Nepal
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Thailand

We’ve written a full guide to the GREAT Scholarship scheme, covering eligibility, applications and more.

Scotland’s Saltire Scholarships (SSS)

Saltire Scholarships are no longer available for 2023-24

The Scottish Government is not running the Saltire Scholarships for 2023-24.

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:

UK scholarships for Australian students

UK scholarships for Canadian students

  • 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.

UK scholarships for Chinese students

  • 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.
  • The Henry Lester Trust offers grants of around £3,500 per year to Chinese students studying architecture, medicine, computer development or mechanical sciences at postgraduate level in the UK.

UK scholarships for Egyptian students

  • 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)

UK scholarships for German students

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.

UK scholarships for Indian students

  • 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.

UK scholarships for Israeli students

  • The Anglo-Jewish Association Karten Scholarship offers support to Israeli students on postgraduate courses in the UK.
  • The Kenneth Lindsay Scholarship Trust gives grants to Israeli students at UK universities, worth between £500 and £2,000.

UK scholarships for Mexican students

  • 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.

UK scholarships for Russian students

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

UK scholarships for Saudi students

UK scholarships for Singaporean students

UK scholarships for American students

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.

You can find out more in our full guide to Marshall Scholarships.

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.

Postgraduate loans for international study in the UK

Some international students will be able to access student loans offered by the UK Government.

You’ll only repay these loans when you’re 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.

For example, if you’re an EU national that has successfully applied for the EU Settlement Scheme, you may be eligible for UK student finance.

Irish nationals are also eligible for UK student finance under the terms of the Common Travel Area.

Our guide to UK Masters funding for EU students has more information on eligibility, as well as advice on the effect of Brexit.

Other international students who might be eligible include the children of Turkish workers, and those with refugee status, humanitarian protection or long-term residence in the UK.

UK postgraduate loans

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

Erasmus+ Masters loans

Unfortunately, the UK left the Erasmus programme at the end of 2020, which means that it’s no longer possible to use an Erasmus Masters loan to study in the UK. For more information on where you can study, check out our guide to Erasmus Masters loans, which also has advice on how this funding works, who is eligible, what you can study and how you'll repay your loan after you graduate.

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 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.

Want to study in the UK?

Search for a Masters in the UK on our website

Chevening Scholarships – A Guide for 2024

Chevening Scholarships are part of a prestigious UK Government postgraduate funding scheme specifically for international students in the UK. This page will give you an introduction to eligibility, applications and more.

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GREAT Scholarships from the British Council – A Guide for 2024

This government funding, awarded in partnership with the British Council, offers at least £10,000 for international students to study a Masters in the UK.

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A Guide to Commonwealth Masters Scholarships

Commonwealth Masters Scholarships offer talented postgraduate students the opportunity to complete a funded full-time or distance Masters at a participating UK university.

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Inlaks Masters Scholarships – A Guide for Indian Students

Indian students in the US and Europe can get up to $100,000 towards the cost of their Masters with an Inlaks. Find out if you're eligible, how to apply and more.

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Commonwealth Scholarships for Indian Masters Students in the UK

Indian students are eligible to apply for a Commonwealth Masters Scholarship, which covers the cost of a full-time, taught postgraduate course in the UK. This guide covers what's on offer and how to apply.

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Chevening Scholarships for Indian Students in the UK – A Guide for 2024

Around 50 Indian students are awarded a Chevening Scholarship to study in the UK each year. Learn more about this prestigious award and how to apply!

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Last updated: 15 November 2023