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How to get funding for a Masters degree in the UK and abroad

Roffey Park 14th July 2021

So, you’ve decided to apply for the MSc in Organisational Development at Roffey Park Institute, but you still need to get funding for it. This article looks at multiple funding options both in the UK and internationally, and offers fresh solutions you might not yet have considered when you’re looking at how to get funding for a Masters.

A couple of small disclaimers:

  • please note that not all funding options discussed in this article may be available to you when applying for Roffey Park Institute’s Masters in OD, and almost all funding for a Masters will be subject to eligibility criteria.
  • None of what follows constitutes financial advice and is purely for guidance. Please investigate all options carefully.

Please do get in touch with us before applying if you’re uncertain how to get funding for a Masters.

What is the average cost of a Masters in the UK?

The cost of a Masters degree in the UK can vary and they are often considerably more expensive than undergraduate degrees, which are subject to a cap.

The average cost of a lab-based MSc is £9,647 for UK/EU students, and £18,613 for students from overseas, however if you were studying for an MBA then the average costs are £18,647 and £21,754 respectively.

Courses in England also tend to be more expensive than those in Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland.

The international online Masters in People and Organisational Development at Roffey Park Institute costs £10,500 + VAT.

Masters degree scholarships

Scholarships don’t need to be repaid and come in different forms:

Postgraduate scholarships – ‘Merit-based’ so awarded to the best students who apply

Bursaries – ‘Need-based’ – often awarded to students from specific backgrounds who wouldn’t normally be able to study for a Master degree

Studentships – ‘Tied-funding’ – usually awarded to PhD students as the funding is tied to a particular research project

The value of a Masters scholarship varies. Some cover all expenses you may incur doing your course, and some are designed to only cover your living expenses or your fees.

Universities often offer some form of assistance for their Masters students. These can range from alumni discounts (typically up to ten percent), to fee waivers, to academic scholarships and bursaries.

Some of the funding for a Masters is targeted at international students, and can include University awards, national scholarships, such as the UK’s GREAT Scholarships, and Exchange schemes, for example the UK-US Fulbright Commission.

There are also many independent charities and trusts that provide funding for Masters courses. Some endow specific courses, but many accept direct applications.

The good news is that you can combine scholarships, and also add to them with loans and part-time work.

Postgraduate student loans

When taking a loan out for a Master course, the best option for interest rates and repayment schedules are student loans from the UK government, as the interest rate on private loans can be exorbitant. Currently, the MSc in People and Organisational Development at Roffey Park Institute isn’t open to government funding. This is something we are working on, but there are a number of alternative solutions below for UK and international applicants..

In the UK, the student loan options available to you depend on where your course is taking place. For example, In England you can apply for up to £11,570 for up to four years, whereas in Wales you can apply for a loan of £18,025. Wales also splits this amount between a loan and means-tested grant, enabling those on lower incomes to more easily afford the course.

Here is a comparison table

 EnglandNorthern IrelandWalesScotland
Value£11,570£5,500£18,025*£10,000**
LevelFull MastersUp to MastersFull MastersUp to Masters
CoursesTaught & ResearchTaught & ResearchTaught & ResearchTaught & Research
LengthUp to 4 yearsUp to 3 yearsUp to 4 yearsUp to 4 years

*Wales offers Masters students a grant of between £1,000 and £6,885, based on household income. A postgraduate loan is then available to top this up to £18,025.

**Scotland offers two separate postgraduate loans for tuition fees and living costs. Their eligibility criteria differ slightly.

Most loans are only repayable after you are earning over £21,000 and are currently set at 6% of salary. To find out more about regional loan options and applying, please click on the links below:

Postgraduate loans in England

Postgraduate loans in Scotland

Postgraduate loans in Wales

Postgraduate loans in Northern-Ireland

Employer loans

As the MSc in People and Organisational Development at Roffey Park Institute isn’t currently open to government funding, it may be worth enquiring whether you could get a loan from your employer. Your employer may also be interested in funding your course fully or partially too (see below). They don’t have to, but they can choose to if they think it will benefit the business.

If you and your employer are based in the UK, and your employer is willing to provide a loan then it is our understanding you can have up to £10,000 on loan in any one year with no additional implications for tax or national insurance liability. If you have things like season tickets for travel on loan too, that is counted as part of the £10,000. It may be possible to split the fees of our MSc in OD programme, so that you borrow two amounts over the course of two years. Please contact us if this is of interest to you using our contact form.

If you are based in another country, do check what is possible with your employer.

Do also consider your wider obligations to your employer if you take out a loan with them. For example, what happens if you leave or you’re made redundant before the MSc has been completed? Are you liable to pay all the money back, and would that be difficult for you to do?

Employer sponsorship

Employers actively seek out postgraduates, recognising the value that they bring to organisations. By 2022, the UK Commission for Employment and Skills predicts that approximately 15% of jobs are likely to need a postgraduate degree.

The most recent edition of the Graduate Outcomes survey, also discovered that postgraduates are 7% more likely to be in full-time employment than those with an undergraduate degree, and 20% more likely to be in a professional role. Moreover, postgraduates are also in more senior roles than their undergraduate counterparts.

Employer sponsorship of postgraduate study is more and more common, particularly in terms of a qualification like the Roffey Park MSc in Organisational Development. The benefits to a company or organisation of a stakeholder gaining the MSc in OD, can vastly outlay the cost of the programme itself.

Postgraduate study should be seen not only as a form of CPD (continuing professional development), but also as an investment in the long term health of the organisation as a whole. It’s up to you to make the business case for employer sponsorship, demonstrating the value in their investment and how the practical benefits will pay off for years down the line. Employer sponsorship is not about paying for you, it’s about investing in you and the organisation of which you are a part.

International funding

The UK is one of the most prestigious and popular places to study a Masters programme, however fees for international students are sometimes higher than for ‘home’ students, and certain funding sources aren’t available to international students. To help bridge this gap, there are a wide variety of scholarships to support international postgraduate students. 

Postgraduate loans

The UK government offers student loans with preferential rates compared to private loans. These usually aren’t available to international postgraduate students, however if you’re an EU national who has successfully applied for the EU settlement scheme, then you may be eligible. If you’re an Irish national then you are able to apply for student finance under the terms of the Common Travel Area. And children of Turkish workers, and those with humanitarian protection or long term residence in the UK may also be eligible for a postgraduate loan.

UK Government funding

There are a number of scholarship schemes, including funding for a Masters in particular, designed to help international postgraduate students to study in the UK.

Chevening Scholarships

Chevening scholarships are a UK Government scheme that covers payment of fees, travel and visa costs, as well as a living allowance. The total value is around £30,000 over the course of a one-year Masters programme.

Commonwealth scholarships

There are three main schemes for international Masters students from Commonwealth countries:

  • Commonwealth Masters Scholarships – These offer support for a one-year Masters programme and usually include tuition fees, a living expenses allowance, and travel costs to and from the UK.
  • Commonwealth Shared Scholarships – These are partially supported by UK universities and provide payment of tuition fees, a living expenses allowance and travel costs to and from the UK. They are for candidates from the least developed and lower middle income Commonwealth countries.
  • Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships – These provide scholarships of up to £18,000 for students to undertake a UK Masters degree whilst living in their home country.

GREAT Scholarships

These are a joint initiative between the British Council and the UK Government, that offers support between ten and twenty-five thousand pounds to students from the following countries to study a Masters programme in the UK:

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

You apply for GREAT Scholarships from the universities taking part in the programme after you have been awarded a place. Read this guide for more information.

Scotland’s Saltire Scholarships (SSS)

Scotland’s Saltire Scholarships offer Masters level support of up to £8,000 in the following subjects: science, technology, creative industries, healthcare and medical sciences, renewable and clean energy. You can find a further breakdown of the subjects eligible for scholarships here. International students from Canada, India, Japan, Pakistan, the USA, or China (including Hong Kong) are eligible to apply.

International scholarships

There are also a wide range of scholarship programmes for Masters students within their home countries. These include Australia, China, Egypt, India, Israel, Mexico, Russia. Regional scholarships are also available to Africans through the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and Latin Americans though the Fundacion Beca.

Here are more details for scholarships available in Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Singapore and the US.

Canada

Mackenzie King Scholarships are awarded to graduates from Canadian universities wishing to undertake a postgraduate course in Canada or abroad.

The Canadian Centennial Scholarship Fund provides support for Canadian students who have already begun a postgraduate course in the UK.

Europe

In Germany, the German Academic Exchange Service is one of the world’s largest and longest running exchange and funding programmes that offers support for German students wanting to study in the UK, and vice versa.

The Middle East

In Saudi Arabia, The King Abdullah Scholarships Program funds talented Saudi citizens to study abroad in a range of countries (including the UK).

The Saïd Foundation offers postgraduate scholarships for one and two year courses to students from Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan.

Singapore

The Tan Kah Kee Postgraduate Scholarship supports Singaporean citizens studying a Masters abroad, awarding a one-off sum of S$12,000.

With support from SkillsFuture Singapore, Singaporeans of age 25 and above will be able to utilize their SkillsFuture credits to offset the fees for the masters programme. Participants who are aged 40 and above would be able to use up to $1,500 from their SkillsFuture credit for the programme.

NTUC members will also be eligible to tap into their UTAP fund to defray the cost of the programme and members age 40 and above will be able to enjoy up to $500 course fee support

The United States of America

Fulbright Scholarships – Postgraduate awards offer tuition fee waivers as well as a generous maintenance grant.

Marshall Scholarships – These are specifically available for Masters courses in the UK and are open for one- and two-year courses.

University Funding

Many universities also offer funding for international students. Once you’ve found a masters programme that suits your needs, contact the university and enquire whether they have a funding programme that may be able to assist you.

Trusts and Charities

There are many trusts and charitable organisations that provide financial support for international students wanting to study a postgraduate course in the UK.

  • Gates Cambridge Scholarships are open to students wishing to study at the University of Cambridge
  • The Rhodes Trust administers two scholarship programmes for postgraduate study at the University of Oxford
  • The Hornby Trust provides scholarships for English language teachers to study a Masters in TESOL at the University of Warwick
  • Article 36 helps refugees in the UK access higher education, including Masters Programmes

Erasmus funding

The Erasmus scheme has been Europe’s flagship funding initiative for international academic collaboration and exchange since 1987. However, when the UK left the EU in 2020, they also exited the scheme. The UK Government has announced that it will replace it with the Turing Scheme.

Charities and Trusts

Charities and trusts can be an excellent source of topping up your funding, or gaining a more significant contribution. When you’re starting your search, consider looking at Turn2us, a database of charitable grants across the country. The Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding is also a useful resource in considering less usual sources of funding.

The Grants Register is a directory of information on over 3,500 awarding bodies. Unfortunately, it’s not available online, however universities and local libraries often have copies you can borrow.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is becoming an increasingly popular way to fund a Masters degree or to top up funds. You have complete control at every stage, and by asking for very small amounts from lots of people, you can have more likelihood of raising at least some of the funds needed. It’s not easy however to stand out from the crowd, and you have to make a pitch that inspires people to want to invest in you.

Most crowdfunding is done through specialised crowdfunding websites. You need to make sure you are aware how they work, as many set minimum funding goals, which means that they will only pay out if you reach your minimum target. You’ll usually need to pay fees for the service, which could be an initial fee or a small percentage of donations, and some platforms require you to offer rewards for donors. Here are some crowdfunding options for you to consider.

Hubbub – has partnerships with a range of universities and specialises in digital fundraising for educational projects.

Go Fund Me – features a dedicated education section.

Just Giving – best known as a platform for charitable donations, however this doesn’t mean it can’t be an option for you.

Crowdfunder – a UK-focussed website. Its university section includes postgraduate funding campaigns.

In today’s world there are as many different options for funding a Masters degree as there are courses to take. If you’ve got further questions, get in touch with the team at Roffey Park for more advice and they can share how past and current students of the MSc in OD obtained their MSc funding.

Roffey Park’s Masters in People and Organisational Development

Roffey Park’s MSc in People and Organisational Development is an international masters in organisational development delivered online. Find out more by clicking the image below:

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