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Professional and Career Development Loans (PCDLs)

The Professional and Career Development Loan scheme is closing. You must apply by 25 January 2019. This will not affect your existing loan.

Professional and Career Development Loans (PCDLs) are loans specifically designed for students. They are operated by the Skills Funding Agency through the Co-op bank. They can be used to help fund vocational or work-related training which enhances your job skills or boosts your career prospects but they are not available for all courses. 

I’m getting Student Finance – can I still apply for a PCDL?

Students who get government Student Finance are not usually eligible for a PCDL but if you can show you are ineligible for certain aspects of Student Finance, your application may be considered. For example, if you are studying medicine or dentistry as a second degree and you are ineligible for a Student Finance Tuition Fee Loan or Maintenance Grant in years 1-4 of your course. 

Can I apply for one for each year of my course?

No, a PCDL can help fund a standalone programme of up to two years, or the last two years of a longer programme. So you would normally not be able to take a PCDL until you are within two years of completing your programme, otherwise you would be required to make repayments while you are still studying. If you are studying medicine or dentistry as a second degree, this usually means you could apply for a PCDL for year 4 of a 5 year programme, as you would be within two years of completion and you would not need one for year 5 when the NHS would pay your tuition fees. 

How much can I borrow if my application is successful?

If your application is successful, you can usually borrow between £300 and £10,000 to cover:

  • course costs such as fees, books, travel and childcare
  • living costs such as rent, food and clothing if you are unemployed or working less than 30 hours per week 

How much interest is charged on a PCDL?

The Skills Funding Agency pays the interest on the loan while you are studying and for one month afterwards, after which you would pay it back in instalments with interest. Interest rates on the loans are set to be competitive with commercially available loans. PCDLs are commercial bank loans that are partially government subsidised. PCDLs are being offered at a rate of 9.9% per annum, equivalent to a typical APR of 5-6% over the lifetime of the loan. Here is an estimate of the repayments you would make depending on the loan amount and term, but you would need to check the exact terms with the bank:

















Total payable






36 months










36 months










60 months






How do the banks offering PCDLs assess my application?

 To assess your eligibility for a PCDL and make a decision on your application, the banks will consider a number of factors such as:

  •  are you eligible for student finance?
  •  is your course for vocational or work-related training?
  •  what is your credit history like?
  •  how long have you have been living in the UK?


Where can I get an application form?

To request an application pack and to discuss your eligibility for a PCDL with an adviser, contact The National Careers Service on 0800 100 900. It is advisable to apply several weeks in advance of when you would want the loan to start, so that if your application is refused, you have time to consider alternative options. 

Where can I get more information?

Other contact options include webchat, an online forum and a free callback service.

There is more information about PCDL’s on the National Careers Service and the websites


EU students – you can apply for a PCDL if you have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least three years before the start of your programme and you intend to work in the European Economic Area after you complete your programme. 

I’m not eligible for a PCDL – are there any other loans I can apply for?

Student Finance Maintenance Loans and Professional and Career Development Loans are specifically designed for those who are studying or training and the interest rates and repayment arrangements of these loans generally reflect this. Other bank or payday lending loans may seem attractive but their terms and conditions such as high interest rates or immediate repayments tend to make them unsuitable for students.

A credit card is another type of loan which enables you to borrow money which you will have to pay back. Unless you pay off the balance in full every month, you will be charged interest. Although there are some 0% interest and balance transfer offers, there can be hidden charges such as transfer fees as well as high interest rates once the offer period ends. 

What do I need to consider before deciding to take out a loan?

Unless you are eligible for a PCDL, you should think carefully before deciding to take out any other kind of loan as most will charge high rates of interest and require you to start making immediate repayments which you might struggle to pay from your Student Finance or NHS Bursary.

However, if you have no other options available and need to consider taking a loan, you should first check whether the loan company is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) so you can protect yourself from fraud or other unauthorised activity. The FCA website explains how you can do this and where you can check the register of authorised firms.

Next, make sure you fully understand the terms and conditions of the loan you are offered before you sign any agreement. Try and find out as much information as you can such as:

    • how much you need to borrow


    • how much in total you will end up repaying


    • how much your (minimum) monthly repayments will be


    • what the interest rate is and whether this is fixed or variable


    • the length of the loan agreement


    • the frequency and timing of payments


    • whether you can reduce the amount you need to borrow by exploring other sources of funding or reducing your spending


    • how you will repay the loan from your future earnings


    • at what point in your studies to take the loan – this will depend on your own circumstances;
        • some students may need the money earlier in their studies


        • others may need it later


    • what happens if you take longer to complete your studies than originally planned


Contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service if you would like some help thinking through these issues before you make a decision about taking out a loan. 

I have signed a loan agreement but have changed my mind – what are my options?

If you have signed a loan or credit agreement, under the Consumer Credit Act, you normally have 14 days to withdraw from this agreement. The legislation applies to all credit agreements, whether made in person, on the internet or over the phone. However, if you sign an agreement away from the creditor’s normal business premises such as at your home, your place of work or at an exhibition stand in a shopping centre, you have a shorter cooling off period of 5 days. 

Where can I get more advice about cancelling a loan agreement?

You might find it useful to refer to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) webpages, ‘Your rights when you borrow money’. You can also post a query from the same page and a CAB adviser will email you written advice. The ‘Which’ website also has details about your rights to cancel a loan agreement. 

Shariah-Compliant Loans

Islamic Sharia law prohibits "Riba", which means the paying and receiving of interest for profit. The prohibition is usually applied to excessive or unreasonable interest, but is sometimes deemed to include the commercial rate of interest paid on a Professional and Career Development Loan, bank overdraft or credit card. Occasionally, even the inflation-only interest that is paid on student loans for undergraduates is seen as Riba, although there are many Islamic scholars who do not see it this way.

The UK government is currently exploring the possibility of an alternative finance system available alongside traditional student loans that is not interest based, but results in identical repayments to the conventional system. This funding would be Sharia compliant and overseen by a Sharia advisory committee.

For more information on Shariah-Compliant loans, see the Advice and Counselling Service Student Loans and Shariah law webpage. 

I’ve already taken out a loan but I can’t afford the repayments – what can I do?

If you cannot afford to make repayments, or you are only making the minimum monthly repayment and are being charged interest, contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service for advice about your options. You might also find it helpful to look at the debt section of our website.

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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