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Appendix – eligibility for the Postgraduate Loan

Appendix – eligibility for Student Finance England (SFE) Postgraduate Master's and Doctoral Loans

The following is a very broad list of people who may meet the eligibility criteria for a UK Government Postgraduate Master's/Doctoral Loan. Each category of eligibility has very specific requirements, and this is just a broad description below, so to check if you meet the category of eligibility which you have identified, please contact a Welfare Adviser.  You can also read further details about the eligibility rules on UKCISA.

EU/EEA/Swiss Students starting in the 2020/21 academic year: The UK government has confirmed that EU/EEA students starting their Higher Education course up to and including starting in the academic year 2020/21 will be able to access UK government funding on the same basis as they can currently, for the duration of their course. Please see the eligibility section at the end of this guide for information about the eligibility rules for UK government Student Finance.

 EU/EEA/Swiss Students starting in the 2021/22 academic year: On 23 June 2020, England's Government, made an announcement about the regulations in England which determine eligibility for 'home' fee status and student support for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens and their family members commencing a course in the academic year 2021/22 was made on 23 June 2020.  See England's 2021/22 full parliamentary statement and gov.uk press announcement

Until the government publishes the regulations which give effect to the announced changes, there is a lack of clarity. UKCISA has asked the government a number of questions about this which you can read on their website.

Please see our EU/EEA Fees and Funding webpage which we will update as more information is released.

Please note that at the end of this section there are explanations of the meaning of the terms ‘settled status’,   and ‘ordinarily resident’ and importantly what is meant by the' first day of the first academic year of the course'.

  1. A person who on the first day of the first academic year of the course has settled status in the UK (and not due to having acquired the right of permanent residence), and is ordinarily resident in England, and has been ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands throughout the 3 year period immediately before the first day of the first academic year of the course, and not wholly or mainly to receive full-time education.
  2. A person who on the first day of the first academic year of the course has settled status in the UK due to having acquired the right of permanent residence, and is ordinarily resident in England, and has been ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands throughout the 3 year period immediately before the first day of the first academic year of the course . If the 3 years residence in the UK was wholly or mainly to receive full-time education, you must have been ordinarily resident in the EEA or Switzerland before that 3 year period.
  3. A person who is a refugee, and is ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands and has not ceased to be resident since being recognised as a refugee, and who is ordinarily resident in England on the first day of the first academic year of the course . There is also provision for the spouse, civil partner or child of a refugee to be eligible, subject to certain additional criteria.
  4. A person who has been granted humanitarian protection, and is ordinarily resident in the UK on the first day of the first academic year of the course, and who has been ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands throughout the 3 year period immediately before the first day of the first academic year of the course . There is also provision for the spouse, civil partner or child of a person granted humanitarian protection to be eligible, subject to certain criteria. Successful legal action taken by the Central England Law Centre has made the Department of Education in England to reconsider the ordinary residence requirements for people with Humanitarian Protection.  For information please visit the UKCISA student news page.
  5. EEA and Swiss nationals who are working (including as self-employed) in the UK and who are ordinarily resident in England on the first day of the first academic year of the course, or EEA and Swiss nationals who are frontier workers (including as self-employed). For 2020/21 entrants, this means you would need to be living in the UK by 1/9/2020 to be able to apply for Student Finance as an EEA/Swiss Migrant Worker. You must have been ordinarily resident in the EEA or Switzerland for the 3 year period immediately before the first day of the first academic year of the course. Relevant family members of are also eligible as long as they also meet the relevant residence criteria. Please check with a Welfare Adviser if you think you might meet this category of eligibility as there are specific requirements to meet the definition of worker/self-employed/frontier worker. You can also read more detailed information about this category in the Eligibility Rules for Government Student Finance section of the Undergraduate Funding guide.
  6. A person who was ordinarily resident in England and settled in the UK immediately before leaving the UK to exercise a right of residence to live in the EEA or Switzerland. This can include where you were accompanying your relevant family member who was exercising their right to live in the EEA or Switzerland. You must also be ordinarily resident in the UK on the day on which the first term of the first academic year actually begins and you must have been ordinarily resident in the territory comprising the EEA and Switzerland throughout the three-year period preceding the first day of the first academic year of the course. If your ordinary residence was wholly or mainly for the purposes of receiving full-time education,  you must have been ordinarily resident in the territory comprising the EEA and Switzerland immediately before the 3 year period preceeding the first day of the first academic year of the course.
  7. A person who is an EU national, or their relevant family member, who is attending a course in England, and who has been ordinarily resident in the EEA and Switzerland throughout the 3 year period immediately before the first day of the first academic year of the course, and not wholly or mainly for the purpose of receiving full-time education. The relevant family members of such people are also eligible as long as they also meet the relevant residence criteria.
  8. A person who is a non-UK EU national on the first day of the first academic year of the course, and is ordinarily resident in England on that date, and has been ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands throughout the 3 year period immediately before the first day of the first academic year of the course, and if that residence was wholly or mainly to receive full-time education then immediately prior to that period they must have been ordinarily resident in the EEA and Switzerland.
  9. Children of Swiss nationals, subject to certain specific criteria – please check with a Welfare Adviser.
  10. Children of UK based Turkish workers, subject to specific criteria– please check with a Welfare Adviser. Following the UK withdrawal from the EU, this eligibility category is likley to change or be removed for the 2021/22 academic year.  We will update this page when more information is known.
  11. A person who has long residence in the UK. Specifically on the first day of the first academic year of the course you must be either:
  • Under 18 and have lived in the UK throughout the preceding 7 year period; or
  • Aged 18 or above and, before the first day of the first academic year of the course, have lived in the UK throughout either half your life, or a period of 22 years

You must also be ordinarily resident in England on the first day of the first academic year of the course, and have been ordinarily and lawfully resident in the UK and Islands throughout the 3 year period immediately before this and your residence during the 3 years must not have been wholly or mainly to receive full-time education.

12. For courses starting from the 2018/19 academic year, someone who has been granted (and continues to hold) leave to remain as a stateless person under the immigration rules, and who has been ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom and Islands throughout the period since they were granted such leave. It includes the relevant family members of such a person. 

13. For courses starting from September 2019, someone with Section 67 leave who is resident in England on the first day of the first academic year of the course and has been ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands throughout the 3 year period immediately before the first day of the first academic year of the course.  Family members may also be eligible subject to additional specific criteria.

14. For courses that start in September 2020 or later a new category has been added for people who are victims of domestic abuse and who have been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, who have been ordinarily resident in the UK since this leave was granted and who are resident in England on the first day of the first academic year of the course. 

15. For courses that start in September 2020 or later a new category has been added for people with Calais Leave who have been ordinarily resident in the UK since this leave was granted granted,  who have been ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands throughout the 3 year period immediately before the first day of the first academic year of the course and who are resident in England on the first day of the first academic year of the course. 

In addition to the above requirements, eligibility can also be affected by other factors such as previous study at the same or higher level, receipt of a previous Postgraduate or Doctoral Loan, age, defaulting on a previous student loan, receipt of Research Council funding, eligibility for an NHS Bursary.  These are only examples and not a concise list of all the other factors that are taken into consideration when assessing eligibility.

 

I’m from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland - can I receive the SFE Master's Loan or Doctoral Loan?

Our current understanding is that you must satisfy SFE that your current and most recent place of normal residence is England. Therefore:

  • You must be living in England on the first day of the first academic year of the course, and
  • You should have been living here for at least 3 months immediately prior to the first day of the first academic year of the course; and
  • You must not have moved to England from elsewhere in the UK and Islands solely for the purpose of studying, or attending the postgraduate course or doctoral course, disregarding any intervening vacation, a course that you were undertaking immediately before the current course. “Immediately” generally means when a student starts a master’s or doctoral course in the semester/term that follows the end of their previous course.   In other words, if you were not studying, would you be living in England or elsewhere?
  • If you moved to England to undertake an undergraduate course which you have now completed, you would not automatically be eligible for a PGL for a postgraduate course, unless you could demonstrate to SFE that you are now ordinarily resident in England, for example after your undergraduate course you stayed in England to work.
  • If you moved to England to undertake a postgraduate course which you have now completed, you would not automatically be eligible for a Doctoral Loan for a doctoral course, unless you could demonstrate to SFE that you are now ordinarily resident in England, for example after your postgraduate course you stayed in England to work.

The application form requires you to provide three years of address history.

If you are resident in another part of the UK, you may be eligible for:

  • a Master's Loan from Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland : 

Student Finance Wales offers a maximum of £17,489 made up of loan and grant to Welsh domiciled students to study taught and research Masters anywhere in the UK in the 20/21 academic year. 

Scottish domiciled students can apply for a PGL of up to £10,000 to study anywhere in the UK.

Northern Ireland domiciled students can apply for a PGL of up to £5,500 to study anywhere in the UK.

For more information about eligibilty and repayments see the 'Country Guides' page of the FindAMasters webpage

  • A Doctoral Loan from Student Finance Wales (SFW). SFW offers Doctoral Loans to Welsh domiciled students studying anywhere in the UK and who meet the the SFW eligibility rules. For more information visit Student Finance Wales.
  • Doctoral loans are currently not available to those living in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

What does ‘settled status’ mean?

'Settled' means being both ordinarily resident in the UK and without any immigration restriction on the length of your stay in the UK.

What is the first day of the first academic year of the course?

The first academic year of the course is always 1st September for courses starting between September and December or 1 January for courses starting between January and June.  It is not the start date of the course.

What does ‘ordinarily resident’ mean?

You are ordinarily resident somewhere if you have habitually, normally and lawfully resided in that area from choice. Temporary absences from the residence area should be ignored and therefore would not stop you being ordinarily resident. It has also previously been successfully argued in the UK courts that an individual can be ordinarily resident in more than one place at the same time; individuals wishing to demonstrate this would have to be living a lawful, normal and habitual residence in each of the areas in question.

If you can demonstrate that you have not been ordinarily resident in the relevant residence area only because you, or a family member, were temporarily working outside the relevant residence area, you will be treated as though you have been ordinarily resident there.

Where a category includes a condition that the main purpose of your residence must not have been to receive full-time education, a useful question to ask is: "if you had not been in full-time education, where would you have been ordinarily resident?". If the answer to this question is "outside the relevant residence area" this would indicate that the main purpose for your residence was full-time education. If the answer is that you would have been resident in the relevant residence area even if you had not been in full-time education, this would indicate that full-time education was not the main purpose for your residence in the relevant area.


Disclaimer:
Law, regulations and policies can change quickly. The information on our website is given in good faith and has been carefully checked but QMUL cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions. QMUL is not responsible for the content or reliability of the linked websites which are provided for further information.

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