Can I get financial support during my studies?
Once you are in the UK and have started your studies, there is very little financial help available for international students. If you are here with Tier 4 or Student immigration permission, you are expected to have enough money to cover your fees and living costs as you would have had to show this when you applied for your immigration permission. You are not entitled to apply for most public funds eg. welfare benefits in the UK.
If, having started your course, you are now worried that you don’t have enough money to complete it, or your funding has been temporarily stopped due to circumstances beyond your control, please read the information on this page. If you then have further questions, please contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service.
Watch our short animation to find out how to deal with financial hardship and what help might be available to you.
- How can I find out if I have enough money to last for the duration of my course?
- I have enough money now, but how can I make sure I don't run out later?
- I have a shortfall in my funding. What can I do?
- Can I increase my income through part-time work?
- Can I apply for financial assistance from the university?
- Can I get a scholarship once I have started my course?
- Can Trusts and Charities help finance my studies?
It is essential to plan your funding in advance, for the whole of your course. However it is useful to plan a budget at any stage in your course. You need to work out a budget to compare your expected costs with your income, and check that you will have enough money for all of your tuition fees and living costs, or whether you will have a shortfall (less income than costs). The resources on this page can help you do this.
If, after planning your budget using the above resources, you find that you actually have enough money, you will need to try and keep your spending within your budget to avoid getting into financial difficulties. Whether you are using our budget planner, a spreadsheet, a handwritten budget planner or a budgeting app, you can amend these at any time to reflect any unexpected expenses or changes to your income to help you plan for periods when you might have less money than you expected. Many digital-only banks such as Monzo or Revolut now offer budgeting alongside their current accounts. The Moneytothemasses website has more information as does SavetheStudent's How to budget pages. Checking your budget regularly should also help you to spend your money more carefully, encourage you to cut costs where you can, and claim any discounts you are entitled to.
If you find that you do have a shortfall, you need to think realistically about whether there are any options for you to increase your income, and/or decrease your spending, so that you have enough money. Whether this is possible will depend on your individual circumstances such as how much of your course you have left to complete and the size of your shortfall.
Look at the options below, as you might find that with a little help you will be able to complete your studies.
If you find that you have a large shortfall that you cannot meet, you may need to consider interrupting your studies, returning to your home country and working to save enough money to enable you to resume your studies in the UK at a later date. Read the Advice and Counselling Service’s advice guide Resitting, Interrupting, or Leaving your course – a guide for international students, which explains how interrupting will affect your tuition fees, the administrative procedures involved as well as the immigration implications.
You can discuss your situation with a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service if you need more advice about interrupting your studies.
You need to check your immigration permission to see whether you are allowed to work in the UK and, if so, for how many hours a week (if you have Tier 4 or Student immigration permission allowing you to work, you will have a strict weekly limit during term time for your course of either 10 or 20 hours a week).
The Advice and Counselling Service and the Careers and Enterprise Service have written an advice guide Part time and vacation work which explains how to find work, about Income Tax, National Insurance, the minimum wage and the rules about working for international students.
If you need help finding part time work, Queen Mary Careers and Enterprise can advise you about your options including help with CV writing, application forms, covering letters, interview skills and job searches.
Financial Assistance Fund
You may be able to apply to the Financial Assistance Fund at Queen Mary if you are encounter financial hardship during your course. As an international student, you would need to show that you had secured enough money for your studies before you started your course, but for unforeseen reasons beyond your control this funding is either no longer available or you have incurred unexpected expenses, meaning that you now cannot afford to continue on your course. Financial assistance is mostly awarded to students who are in their final year of study, or if not, who can demonstrate how they will be able to afford the following year(s) without having to apply to the fund again. The fund is only for help with living costs; it cannot help with tuition fees. Any money you are awarded is normally paid as a grant so it doesn’t need to be repaid.
If you want to apply, it can be useful to discuss this with a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service as, although Welfare Advisers are not involved in the decision making process, they can provide helpful information about your case to the Bursaries Office to help explain your financial shortfall and why you are applying for hardship funding.
Be aware that there are specific closing dates for this fund, normally during July each year. Closing dates are specified in the Financial Assistance Fund Policy, located at the every end of the Financial Assistance Fund page.
To apply for the Financial Assistance Fund:
- Log in to your MySis portal and go to the Scholarships and Bursaries page (click + if not visible)
- Click on ‘Apply for Scholarship or Bursary’
- Select ‘Financial Assistance Fund’ from the funding type dropdown and complete the online application screens
- Make sure you click the ‘Submit’ button on the final screen
Short term loans from the Students’ Union
Queen Mary Students' Union (QMSU) can offer a short-term loan of up to £100 to help students who have run into unexpected financial need due to a cash flow problem. For example, if you are waiting for your funding to come in and you need to make a payment. These loans are interest free. You must be able to demonstrate a realistic repayment schedule. There is more information about how to apply online.
The Queen Mary Postgraduate Research Fund
The Queen Mary Postgraduate Research Fund provides small scale funding to help pay for research students expenses such as travel, conference attendance, conference organisation and other research costs. Students can apply for a maximum of £2,000 for fieldwork including international research networking, accessing training, facilities and equipment not available in the UK; a maximum of £1,000 for presenting at an international conference or meeting; accommodation costs to a maximum of £75 per night; subsistence costs of maximum £25 per 24 hour period as well as reasonable travel costs. You will need to show you have tried to find funding from other external sources before applying to the fund, even if those applications were unsuccessful. Applications are considered once a term. More details including how to apply and important deadlines are available online.
The Queen Mary Doctoral College Initiative Fund
This small scale fund is designed to support and promote creative and imaginative activities organised by postgraduate research students which will enhance their research experience, intellectual and/or professional development. The fund can cover expenses ranging from £100 to a maximum of £1,000 including accommodation costs to a maximum of £75 per night, subsistence costs of maximum £25 per 24 hour period and reasonable travel costs. The Doctoral College at Queen Mary anticipates supporting a wide range of activities or events ranging from, but not limited to, seminars, conferences, debates and specialist training activities. Detailed guidelines, deadlines, and an application form are available online.
The Queen Mary University of London Expeditions Fund
The Expeditions Fund offers financial assistance to undergraduate or postgraduate students for expeditions they may wish to undertake during the summer vacation. Awards made are normally for a minimum of £250 and are granted on a case by case basis. An expedition can be any kind of purposeful travel or outdoor pursuit, as an individual or in a group, in the UK or abroad. It can be connected to your academic or personal interests but should not be a compulsory part of your course, such as an elective. The closing date for receiving completed applications is normally in April. More information is available online.
It is unlikely that any scholarship agency will grant you a scholarship once you have started your course in the UK, as these are oversubscribed and usually decided well before the start of the academic year. For more information on scholarships visit the Queen Mary Scholarships and funding webpage.
Funding from trusts and charities can only ever be a top-up to the core funding you already have, not a replacement for it. You will almost always be expected to have explored all other means of financial support before applying. In general, you need to have exceptional circumstances for charitable funding to be a realistic option. For example, help may occasionally be available for final year students in severe financial hardship and for whom a small payment would enable them to complete their course. Some trusts and charities only provide help with specific costs, and many trusts do not help with tuition fees at all. Many trusts and charities have only restricted available funding, with some charities not making any awards to students at all.
If you contact them directly by phone or email in advance of making any written application, most will be able to give you an idea of whether they are making any awards and the amount of money successful applicants can expect to get. If the amounts they offer are quite low, and if they offer very few awards each year, make sure you have considered all other available options before deciding whether to invest the time and effort needed to apply for this type of funding.
Remember that funds are limited and therefore not all applications will be successfu.Here are some examples:
The Mary Trevelyan Fund is administered by International Students House (ISH). Queen Mary holds membership with ISH, so our non-UK national students can apply. The fund can provide a grant or loan to students who find themselves in unexpected financial hardship during their studies. However before applying, we suggest that students in unexpected financial hardship first apply to the Queen Mary Financial Assistance Fund. If this application is unsuccessful or an award is made that does not cover the full shortfall an application can be made to the Mary Trevelyan Fund. Evidence of applications to / awards from Queen Mary will strengthen an application to the Mary Trevelyan Fund. Visit International Students House for further information including how to apply.
The Gilchrist Education Trust provides grants to students who have made proper provision to fund a degree, or higher education, course but find themselves facing unexpected financial difficulties which may prevent completion of it; also from students who are required, as part of their course, to spend a short period studying abroad. Applicants must be full-time students at a British University. Grants are in the region of £500. Visit their website to read about more detailed information about their eligibility criteria and application deadlines.
Funds for Women Graduates: FfWG provides that are designed to help women graduates, including students from overseas. They provide Foundation Grants to women in the final year of a PhD or DPhil with their living expenses. They do not provide funds to cover fees. To be eligible you must be registered for study or research at an approved institution of higher education in Great Britain and doing the bulk of your study in Great Britain. Foundation Grants can be up to £6,000 and are awarded in July for the following academic year.
FfWG also provide Emergency Grants of up to £2,500 to graduate women who face an unforeseen financial crisis whilst engaged in study or research at an approved institution of higher education in Great Britain. They are awarded in May and November. Applications will be considered from women studying in the UK of any age or nationality and any subject or field of study who have completed at least 6 months of their studies. Evidence that you have the funds to pay tuition fees is required.
Visit the FfWG main site for more detailed information about their grants, eligibility criteria and application deadlines.
Churches together in Britain (CTBI) and Ireland assist full-time international students, irrespective of their race, gender or religion, who are already in Britain and Ireland, who are already undertaking their course and who are facing unexpected financial problems during the final stages of their course. Grants are typically up to, but not exceeding £1,000; the same person is not funded twice. For the the full Hardship Fund eligibility criteria and how to apply visit the CTBI website
The Ameobi Hardship Fund for International Students assists international students whose funding has suddenly ceased due to circumstances beyond their control. It does not help with Maintenance Costs but can consider help with tuition fees. Students must be studying or doing research. The grant is a contribution towards the completion of the studies and/or research and not to pay the tuition fees in its entirety. Visit their website for more detailed information about the eligibility criteria and how to apply.
How can I find other trusts and charities to apply to?
Turn2Us, a charitable service, has a database of trusts and charities accessible via a grant search which may provide financial assistance to students.
Although there is an online search facility, it is usually better to ring their helpline on 0808 802 2000 and speak to an adviser. Lines are open Mon-Fri 9am to 8pm. This is because the adviser you speak to can advise you about organisations which would not appear using an online search and which could potentially help you based on your individual circumstances.
Queen Mary University of London has subscribed to the Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding. The Alternative Guide is a website featuring a database of over 750 charities. It was written by two postgraduate students who between them have won over £45,000 from 55 different charity awards to fund their own postgraduate studies. Read the 'Student Stories' section of the guide for helpful advice from real students who have secured funding. The guide will take you through the whole process, from identifying charities to making applications for funding. You can use the database whether you are looking for a large amount of funding, or a small amount for a specific project or conference attendance, whether you need help with tuition fees or for living costs.
Current Queen Mary students and staff can access the information for free via the Alternative Guide Gateway by registering with their Queen Mary e-mail address, or logging on automatically from campus.
If you are a prospective student, you can also access the guide for free, by entering a PIN. To get the current PIN please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
When should I apply?
Many trustees meet only once or twice a year to assess applications, so it is important that you apply before the relevant deadlines. Some trusts may agree to offer funding at the start of your course and then a small top up in each subsequent year of your course. It is usually a good idea to apply well in advance of the first year you need funding for and by any stated deadline to ensure your application stands the best chance of being considered. Other trusts may offer one-off help to students who find themselves in financial hardship once their course has started, particularly if you are near the end of your course. These trusts may also have deadlines which you would need to check before applying.
How do I apply?
You will need to carefully research the criteria of trusts and charities and then make separate applications to each relevant trust or charity, explaining your situation and how you meet their criteria. You may need to complete an application form, which the trust can send you or which you can download from their website. If there is no application form, you will need to write a letter to the trustees who will decide your application. It is advisable to write a letter even if you have completed an application form as a letter enables you to explain your situation more fully, which maximises your chances of success. Once you have written your letter , you can contact a Welfare Adviser if you would like your letter checked. The Welfare Adviser may also be able to write a letter to go with yours, if that is required. However, if evidence of your academic ability is required, you would need to request this from your personal adviser, tutor or student support officer in your academic school. However, you can still contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service to get feedback on your application and supporting evidence.
In your letter, explain the following clearly:
How you meet the eligibility criteria
If the trust only helps people in a certain age group, or who live in a particular area, state clearly at the beginning of your letter your age, or the area where you live. If it is not clear to the trustees that you are eligible to apply, they might reject your application.
About your studies
Explain what course you are studying and where, which academic year you are in and when you expect to complete the course.
Trusts and charities usually have very limited funds, and they want to be sure that any money they give you will enable you to complete your course. For this reason many trusts are more likely to help final year students, so if this is the case, emphasise this strongly. If you are not in your final year, try to explain how you plan to fund any future years of your course, so that the trustees can see that you will still be able to complete your course.
It can also be helpful to explain why you are studying this course, for example, what career you hope to do after graduation. This helps to demonstrate how serious you are about the course and how important it is for you to complete it, which can make your application more compelling.
Why you are in financial need
The trustees need to understand your financial situation and why you are asking for financial support. If you have a main source of funding but it is not quite enough to cover all of your costs, explain this. If your main source of funding has been temporarily disrupted or it has ended, explain this. If you have exceptional circumstances, such as long term illness or disability, or childcare responsibilities, explain this. Make it clear whether your financial difficulties are a one-off problem, affecting you only in the current academic year, or if they will continue throughout your course.
How much money you need
You need to present a clear budget listing all of your income and essential expenditure, so that the trustees can see your shortfall (how much money you need). If you are applying part way through an academic year, you will just need to show how much money you need to complete the academic year. You can use the budget planner spreadsheet which you can download from the international budgeting pages.
Where else you are applying
Explain how many other trusts and charities you are applying to, so that the trustees understand that you are not expecting them to give you enough money to cover your entire shortfall. If you have already been granted money from another trust or charity, or from the University, make this clear, and if possible include evidence, such as the award letter.