Find out about further study at university open days and postgraduate events.
Varying from scholarships to paid teaching positions, nearly all universities have funding opportunities. Competition can be fierce but a chance to get financial help with your studies cannot be overlooked
The amount of money available and the type of application you will have to do to be successful obviously varies depending on the institution. Some universities offer full-fee studentships with maintenance grants (stipends), some offer bursaries to help students in financial difficulty, and some provide teaching positions. Many institutions will also offer awards for outstanding achievement, with prizes up to £3,000 on offer.
Graduate teaching positions and assistantships are great ways to supplement your university income while gaining valuable teaching experience. Many universities offer jobs depending on the type of research you intend to carry out.
Successful teaching assistants normally receive a salary equivalent to a Research Council stipend (around £13,590 for 2012) and a waiver of tuition fees. In return, you will be expected to provide 120-180 hours of contact teaching time over the university year. This includes classroom teaching, tutorials, laboratory demonstrations and paper marking. The amount of teaching should break down to around six to eight hours per week, which is the recommended teaching time for full-time postgraduates. If you are successful in winning a post, it is important to remember that your studies are your primary concern, and you should seek help from the department if the work becomes too much.
The number of positions has grown steadily as universities have had to deal with cuts in funding. To universities, they are a cost-effective way of employing more staff while also offering funding opportunities to postgraduates. New graduate teaching assistants should receive proper training and support from their department. As most positions are for a number of years, many assistants progress through various stages throughout their study, from basic marking and tutorials in the first year through to full lecturing.
Vacancies are advertised internally and on each university's website. They are dependent on a department’s needs at that time, and therefore aren't available every year. As with most funding, the earlier you apply, the more chance you stand of being successful. Try to meet with staff in your department to get your name known if you are interested.
Bursaries and scholarships are usually awarded for excellence in teaching or research in a particular field and are given out on a discretionary basis. To find out what awards are available in your field, search postgraduate funding. Some areas of study - such as scientific research - have more opportunities and funding available. Some universities will also receive studentship funding from the Research Councils, although these are fiercely fought over.
'Postgraduate funding opportunities are often highly dependent upon the specific areas and access to funding varies from year to year. In Research Council funding alone the university receives an average of £20million per year to support postgraduate students across a variety of disciplines'Claire Hughes, doctoral college manager The University of Manchester
Also known as a hardship fund, an access to learning fund can be a lifesaver to a student who suffers a financial problem while at university. The funds are provided by the government to institutions in order to help financially insecure students. They're available to both full-time and part-time postgraduates. Usually, funds don't have to be paid back. As funds are not allowed to be transferred from one year to the next, this means that many universities are more amenable to giving out money as the year progresses. So, even if you submit a request at the start of the academic year which gets rejected, it may be worthwhile applying again later in the year.
It is only possible to apply for an access to learning fund once term has started, and the money cannot be used towards tuition fees. Applicants will have to provide detailed evidence of their financial situation and explain what course materials, rent, living expenses and travel costs they need.
Awards can be anywhere between £100 and £3,500, and the best starting point is your student services department, which will guide you through the application process. This advice applies mainly to those studying at institutions in England, but similar help may be available from universities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Contact the relevant student services department for more information and guidance.
There are a range of charities, foundations and trusts which provide bursaries to needy students studying in their field of interest. Many organisations are happy to help, from The Royal Society , providing grants to more than 1,200 scientists annually to the Funds for Women Graduates (FfWG), which are offered each year to two outstanding postgraduates.
The number of options can seem bewildering, but there are two points to start with when researching: look for organisations related to your area of study or personal circumstances, and when you find them, apply early.
It may be easy to become disheartened when you think of all the students chasing the same grants, but think about what makes you stand out. Is your research vital for study into a disability? Does your research have links with a foreign country? Is there a society with bursaries for students of a particular ethnicity? If you answer yes to any of these questions, chances are there’s an organisation with funding to help you.
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