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Who is this Advice Guide for?
This Advice Guide is for home and EU students who are planning to study, or who are already studying, a postgraduate programme (taught or research) at QMUL. It gives information about sources of funding that you may be eligible to apply for before the start of your programme, as well as possible funding options if you are in financial hardship during your programme.
This guide also explains what your academic options may be if your circumstances change during the course, for example if you need to take time out, as well as explaining the financial implications of such a change to your studies.
When you are planning your funding, you will need to know how much your expenses will be. You can use our useful budget planning resources, including a spreadsheet to help you calculate what your cost of living will be.
Graduate entry and second degree medical and dental students should read our advice guide Funding for Medical and Dental students.
International students should see the money section of the international webpages on the Advice and Counselling Service website for information about funding:
You can read and download all our advice guides from the Advice and Counselling Service website.
The information in this advice guide is for full-time home and EU postgraduate students and applicants. Shaded EU+ boxes like this have important extra information for European Union students only. UK students can ignore the EU+ boxes.
Overview of postgraduate funding
Undertaking postgraduate study is a big financial commitment. It is also a serious undertaking in terms of your time and hard work. To make sure you can optimise the opportunity to study at postgraduate level, it is essential that you secure a reliable package of funding that will cover your tuition fees and living costs in full, for the duration of the programme, before you enrol. Finding adequate financial support once you have started studying is very difficult and you could risk having to interrupt your studies or even leave your course if you don’t have enough money.
You can use this guide to explore the possible options for funding postgraduate study. Once you have read this guide, if you have questions or would like individual advice about your circumstances, please contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service.
What are my funding options?
The UK government offers Postgraduate Loans for Master's courses, and from 2018-19, for Doctoral programmes.
Another type of public funding available for postgraduate study is from Research Councils, which are government funded agencies engaged in all aspects of research across different academic disciplines. Research Council funding is given to universities to administer to their students in the form of research studentships: these are grants for living costs and tuition fee waivers (see next section of this guide).
In addition to research studentships, there are some other university bursaries or scholarships – what is available depends on whether you are a research or taught student, and on your subject area. We explain in this guide what is available from QMUL.
It is essential to identify ways of funding living costs as well as tuition fees before enrolling onto postgraduate study. For many students a combination of loans, personal savings, family support, and part-time work can be a viable way of funding postgraduate study. In this guide we explain the various options that may be available to you.
Studying part-time, which allows you to spread the cost over a longer period and to earn money while you study, can also be a viable way of funding yourself as a postgraduate. If you have just finished your undergraduate degree, you may need to consider delaying postgraduate study until you have worked and saved enough money to pay your fees and living costs.
Where can I find more information?
If you have not decided whether postgraduate study is for you or what programme you would like to apply for, there are several websites dedicated to postgraduate funding where you can find more information:
The Student Room (includes a forum where you can chat to other prospective postgraduate students)
QMUL Postgraduate Research Studentships
QMUL Principal's Postgraduate Research Studentships are available to Home, EU, and International students wishing to undertake research in any area of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Science and Engineering. QMUL expects to offer up to 100 studentships for entry in 2018.
There is no separate application process for these awards. Applications must be received by 31 January 2018, with the exception of applications for Law which must be received by 7 December 2017.
The studentships cover tuition fees and provide maintenance paid at £16,000. They are tenable for up to three years.
For further information about the Postgraduate Research Studentships available in your subject area please see the QMUL website.
All QMUL's Postgraduate Research Studentships are administered directly by academic Schools and Institutes, who you can contact for further guidance.
UK Research Council Doctoral Training Studentships
The UK Research Councils provide studentships to cover tuition fees and maintenance in the form of Doctoral Training Centres (DTCs), Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) and Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) at QMUL. Research Council funded studentships at QMUL are currently available through the following DTCs, CDTs and DTPs:
- ESRC London Social Science
- EPSRC Media Arts Technology Doctoral Training Centre
- London NERC Doctoral Training Partnership
- EPSRC Plastic Electronics (based at Imperial College London)
- BBSRC London Interdisciplinary Doctoral Partnership
- EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Graphene Technology (based at University of Cambridge)
Your potential supervisor or school/institute administrator will be able to advise you on how to apply for a studentship held at one of the above DTCs, CDTs or DTPs.
There is more information online.
QMUL Alumni Loyalty Award
This is a £1000 discount off your tuition fees.
It is available to all QMUL graduates who are applying for a postgraduate degree programme (any full-time, part-time or distance learning Master’s or Doctorate degree programme offered at QMUL).
You will be automatically considered for the award when you apply for your place.
You must not be in receipt of any other QMUL scholarship or full-fee scholarship from any other source to qualify for the Alumni Loyalty Award. You must be self-funding at least £1000 of your fees to be eligible. For more details about the QMUL Alumni Award click here.
QMUL funding opportunities for current students
The QMUL Postgraduate Research Fund
This fund is open to all postgraduate research students at QMUL. It is designed to support travel (e.g. conference attendance) and other expenses related to a students’ doctoral studies. The fund particularly seeks to promote opportunities for students to undertake overseas research; further develop international research networks; access training, facilities or equipment not available in the UK; or present their research at an international conference/research meeting. The fund cannot be used to cover the cost of equipment or consumables.
Awards are up to a maximum of £2,000. There is no minimum threshold. You will need to show you have sought funding from both internal and external sources (if available) before applying to the fund.
Applications are considered three times each year, and the three annual deadlines are 1 October, 1 February and 1 June. You cannot claim retrospectively for expenses you have already incurred, so you must apply in advance of your intended activity, and get your application to your school or institute at least one week before the published deadlines.
The QMUL Doctoral College Initiative Fund
The Doctoral College Initiative Fund (DCIF) 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 Doctoral College anticipates supporting a wide range of activities or events ranging from, but not limited to, seminars, conferences, debates and specialist training activities.
Awards range between £100 and £1,000. You will need to show you have sought funding from both internal and external sources (if available) before applying to the fund.
Applications are considered three times each year, and the three annual deadlines are 1 October, 1 February and 1 June. You should get your application to your school or institute at least one week before the published deadlines.
For detailed guidelines and an application form click here.
QMUL funding for taught programmes
This section of the guide gives a summary of QMUL bursaries and scholarships for Masters programmes. More information is available on the QMUL website.
QMUL subject-specific scholarships and bursaries
There is a list of available scholarships and bursaries online, according to academic school.
You will automatically be considered for one of these bursaries when you apply for a place on your Masters programme, subject to published deadlines.
QMUL Alumni Loyalty Award
This is a £1000 discount off your tuition fees.
It is available to all QMUL graduates who are applying for a postgraduate degree programme (any full-time, part-time or distance learning Master’s or Doctorate degree programme offered at QMUL).
You will be automatically considered for the award when you apply for your place.
You must not be in receipt of any other QMUL scholarship or full-fee scholarship from any other source to qualify for the Alumni Loyalty Award. You must be self-funding at least £1000 of your fees to be eligible. For more details about the QMUL Alumni Award click here.
- What do I need to consider before taking out a loan?
- UK Government Postgraduate Master's Loans
- UK Government Postgraduate Doctoral Loans
- Professional and Career Development Loans
- Can I take out a Postgraduate Loan and a PCDL at the same time?
- Shariah-Compliant Loans
It is important to check whether the loan company offering you a loan is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) so you can protect yourself from fraud or other unauthorised activity. The FCA website which explains how you can do this and where you can check the register of authorised firms.
You should also make sure you fully understand the terms and conditions of any loan or credit that you take. Before you decide to take out a loan first check:
- how much you need to borrow
- how much your 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
- 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, while others may need it later
- what happens if you take longer to complete your studies than originally planned
- whether you can reduce the amount you need to borrow by exploring other sources of funding or reducing your spending
- How much in total you will end up repaying
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.
A new system of postgraduate loans for Masters degrees in the UK was introduced for courses starting from the 2016-17 academic year onwards. These are intended as a contribution towards the cost of study, so eligible students can use them as they wish to (e.g. for tuition fees, or living costs, or other costs).
It is non-income assessed and has to be paid back. You must be aged under 60 on 1st August of the year in which you start the course
Which courses can I get a Master's Loan for?
Master's Loans are available for study at any UK university with degree awarding powers, or an alternative funding provider with degree awarding powers.
Master's Loans are available for both taught Masters programmes as well as Masters by Research, and across all subject areas. They are also available for designated distance learning courses, provided you are living in England.
Students are not eligible for a Master's Loan where they are eligible to apply for a healthcare bursary or are in receipt of a social work bursary from any of the following:
- National Health Service (NHS)
- Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS)
- Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS)
A full-time course must be a maximum of 2 years long, and a part-time course must be either:
- a 1 year full-time equivalent course studied part-time over 2 years, or
- a 2 year full-time equivalent course studied part-time over 3 or 4 years, or
- 3 year part-time course which does not have a full-time equivalent
How much can I borrow?
Eligible students can borrow up to a maximum for the whole course of:
- £10,609 for students starting in 2018-19
- £10,280 for students starting in 2017-18
- £10,000 for students starting in 2016-17
If the course is longer than one year, the total loan amount will be split across the number of years of the course, for example on a two year course starting in 2016 you would get up to £5000 in each year.
If you initially choose to borrow less than you are entitled to, but later decide that you need to borrow more, you can ask SFE to amend the loan amount. You need to complete a ‘loan request form’ which you can download under the 'change an application' section (you cannot make this request online). The deadline for doing this is the end of May in the first academic year if your course is one year long, or by the end of May in the second academic year if your course is more than one year long.
What is the interest rate on the Master's loans?
Interest is charged from the date you receive your first loan payment. The interest rate is the current RPI (Retail Prices Index) percentage rate, plus an additional 3%. This means that from 1 September 2017 until 31 August 2018 the interest rate will be 6.1%.
How is the Master's Loan paid?
Payment will be released once your university has confirmed to SFE that you are studying. The Master's Loan will be paid from the Student Loans Company direct to you in three equal instalments across the academic year as follows:
Payment 1 – Once you have enrolled on your course (normally in late September or early October)
Payment 2 – last Wednesday of January
Payment 3 – last Wednesday of April
How and when do I apply for a Master's Loan?
Applications should be made online to Student Finance England. Apply as soon as you can to try and ensure that your loan is available at the start of the academic year.
You must apply no later than the end of May in your first year if your course is one year long, or by the end of May in your second year if your course is more than one year long.
The application deadline may be extended if you were not eligible for the Postgraduate Loan at the start of the academic year but only became eligible part way through.
You will submit your Online Terms and Conditions (OTC) via your online account with an Electronic Signature (E-Signature) so you will not need to sign any paper forms and send them by post.
What documents will I need to provide?
This is explained on the gov.uk website.
Do I need a National Insurance Number (NINO)?
No payments will be released until a valid National Insurance Number (NINO) has been received and verified, unless you are a non-UK EU student. If you have already had your NINO verified as part of an earlier SFE application, the NINO does not need to be verified again.
What if something changes after I have applied?
If any personal information changes after you submit your application, such as a change of address or bank account details, you can update this information via your online account.
If other changes happen, for example you decide to enrol at a different university or on a different course, you cannot change this online, so you need to download and send in a ‘change of circumstances form’.
I already hold a Masters or higher level qualification – can I get a Master's Loan?
If you already hold a Masters degree or higher level qualification (regardless of how it was funded or whether or not it was achieved in the UK) you won’t normally be eligible for a Master's Loan.
I started a previous Masters but did not complete it – can I get a Master's Loan?
Eligibility for a Master’s Loan is not affected by previous postgraduate study if you did not achieve the qualification and did not receive a loan. However, in order to receive a Master's Loan you must undertake a full master’s degree course and not a partial course topping up from previous study or experience.
If you undertook a previous postgraduate Master’s degree and received a Master's Loan or any other loan provided by a UK government authority for that course but did not receive the qualification, you will be ineligible for another Master's Loan (even where you did not receive full payment of your loan), unless you can prove that you did not complete the course due to a compelling personal reason (CPR). Contact a Welfare Adviser if you think this applies to you.
What is the personal eligibility criteria?
Please see the Appendix at the end of this guide for information about eligibility.
How will loan repayments work?
Loans are normally repayable from the April following course completion, so if you study a one year programme startng September in the 2017-18 academic year, you will become liable for repayments in April 2019.
You will only be liable to make repayments once you are earning at least £21,000 gross in a tax year, or the equivalent to this amount in any shorter period that you work (for example if in any week or month your earnings would equivocate to an annual income of at least £21,000). You will repay 6% of your income above £21,000.
The postgraduate loan repayment information on the Find a Masters website has worked examples and a calculator you may find useful to help you calculate your individual repayments. The gov.uk page also has repayment information.
If you are repaying from overseas, the repayment threshold will be based on the cost of living in your country of residence.
What happens if I fail to complete my Masters?
If you do not achieve your Masters qualification, or if you are awarded a lower level qualification, Master's Loan funding that you have already received will not be considered an overpayment. However, further Master's Loan funding will not be available for a new course unless you failed to complete the first course due to compelling personal reasons.
Where can I get more information?
I am from Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland - can I get a Master's Loan?
See the Eligibility section of this guide. The findamasters.com website explains how much loan is available in 2017/18 for students from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland who are studying in the UK.
If you’re starting a postgraduate Doctoral course on or after 1 August 2018, you may be eligible for a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan. This is to help towards your tuition and living costs. It is non-income assessed and has to be paid back.
What is the eligibility criteria?
- You must be aged under 60 on the first day of the first academic year of your course. Please click here for the definition of an academic year
- You must not be receiving any Research Council Funding (even a partial award)
- You must not have already received a Doctoral Loan
- You must be studying for your first Doctoral degree. If you already hold an equivalent or higher level qualification, you aren't eligible
- You must be studying on an eligible course (see below)
Which courses are eligible?
Your course must:
- be a full, standalone doctoral course (not a top-up course)
- have started on or after 1 August 2018
- last between 3 to 8 academic years
- be provided by a university in the UK with research degree awarding powers
There are no restrictions on subjects, disciplines, research areas or topics.
If more than one university delivers your course and one is overseas, you’ll still be eligible for the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan so long as:
- the UK university is the lead institution
- you spend at least 50% of your study time over the whole course in the UK
The course can be either full or part-time.
If your course is undertaken by distance learning, you must be living both in England on the first day of the first academic year of your course, and within the UK for the whole of your course.
Eligibility also depends on your nationality and residence. Please see the Appendix of this guide for eligibility information.
How much can I borrow?
You can borrow up to £25,000 for the whole course. This is not income assessed.
How is the Doctoral Loan paid?
The total loan will be divided equally across each year of your course. For example, if you apply for the maximum amount of Postgraduate Doctoral Loan and study over four years, you’ll get £6,250 in each year of your course.
The amount of loan you can receive each year will be split into three instalments and payments will be spread accross the year. After your application has been approved you’ll be sent a letter with your payment dates or you can check them in your online account. You will usually get the first payment shortly after you have enrolled.
How and when do I apply for a Doctoral Loan?
You should apply online as soon as possible to ensure your funding is in place before you start your studies.
What is the interest rate?
Interest is charged from the date you receive your first loan payment. The interest rate is the current RPI (Retail Prices Index) percentage rate, plus an additional 3%. This means that from 1 September 2017 until 31 August 2018 the interest rate is 6.1%.
How will loan repayments work?
Loans are normally repayable from the April following course completion. You will only be liable to make repayments once you are earning at least £21,000 gross in a tax year, or the equivalent to this amount in any shorter period that you work (for example if in any week or month your earnings would equivocate to an annual income of at least £21,000). You will repay 6% of your income above £21,000. If you already have a Postgraduate Master’s Loan then you’ll make a combined repayment of 6% covering both postgraduate loans.
Where can I get more information?
The Professional and Career Development Loan scheme is closing. You must apply by 25 January 2019. This will not affect your existing loan.
PCDLs 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. 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. PCDLs are commercial bank loans that are partially government subsidised.
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 being offered at a rate of 9.9% per annum. 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:
The gov.uk website advises to apply two months before your course starts to give the bank enough time to process your application, and not to apply more than two months ahead, as your application won’t be accepted.
As well as the type of academic programme you are doing, banks will assess your eligibility for a PCDL by considering other factors such as how long you have been living in the UK and your credit history, before making a decision on your application. The eligibility criteria is set out on the Co-op bank website. You must be:
- Be a single applicant aged 18 or over.
- A UK citizen.
- Have been living in the UK for at least 3 years before your course starts.
- Not had any County Court Judgments (CCJs), entered into any Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs), or Trust Deeds, nor been declared bankrupt within the last 6 years.
- Not in arrears, and have not missed more than 2 payments on any credit agreement in the last six months.
- Plan to work in the UK, European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) after your course is completed.
- Unable to finance the course yourself, with reasonable or adequate access to funds.
If your application is successful, you can usually borrow between £300 and £10,000 to pay for:
- 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
It is advisable to get a decision on your PCDL application before you start your programme, otherwise if your PCDL application is turned down after you have started, you might have to take time out or leave due to a lack of funds.
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. Other contact options include webchat, an online forum and a free callback service.
There is more information on PCDLs on the gov.uk website.
There is also a step-by-step guide to applying for a PCDL and advice about repaying PCDL’s to try and minimise the overall amount of interest you pay here.
You can apply to the Postgraduate Loans Scheme 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 UK or elsewhere in the European Economic Area after you complete it.
The Skills Funding Agency have advised that eligible students can apply for both a Postgraduate Loan and a PCDL if a Postgraduate Loan would not provide you with sufficient income. You are advised to first apply for a Postgraduate Loan as the interest rate is less, repayments are income contingent, and it does not require a credit rating. If the Postgraduate Loan does not meet your expected expenses, you can try applying for a PCDL to increase your funding. It is likely that you will need to have prepared a budget for your PCDL application showing your expected expenditure, to show how much funding you need. You may find it useful to use our online budget planner to help you with this.
Before taking out both loans, you should think very carefully about whether you will be able to afford the repayments of two loans after course completion. See the previous section ‘What do I need to consider before taking out 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, Student Finance loan, bank overdraft or credit card. For more information on Shariah-Compliant loans see the Advice and Counselling Service Student Loans and Shariah law webpage.
Other bank, private and payday lending loans are available. They 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. 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. Always check the terms and conditions before taking a credit card and make sure you know what the interest rate is, how you will afford the repayments and what you will be charged if you fail to make the minimum monthly repayment.
If you already have credit cards and cannot afford to make repayments or you are only making the minimum monthly repayment and being charged high levels of 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.
Or you could contact the charity Stepchange for advice about your options.
Charities and Trusts
Funding from charities and trusts is one of several options you may wish to explore to help you fund the cost of your postgraduate study. You might explore this option when planning your funding as a prospective student, or it may be an option to consider if you are already a postgraduate student but your planned funding has been disrupted, or you are facing an unexpected cost.
It is not advisable to rely on charitable funding as a main source of income, but if you are successful, it could contribute to the overall package you need to put in place to cover your fees and living costs. Many charities aim to assist only the most vulnerable members of society but some can offer help with educational costs if you meet their criteria.
Before deciding whether to apply for this type of funding, there are some key points to consider. You need to:
- apply well in advance of the year you need funding for so you can make alternative plans if you are not successful
- set aside enough time to research and apply to several individual trusts and charities as most will offer successful applicants small amounts of money rather than a larger lump sum
- make sure you meet all of the eligibility criteria before you apply as most charities have strict criteria such as an upper age limit or living in a certain location
- apply by any stated deadlines
We explain below some ways of searching for charitable funding:
The Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding
QMUL 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 QMUL students and staff can access the information for free via the Alternative Guide Gateway by registering with their QMUL 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 email@example.com
A Learned Society is an organization that exists to promote an academic discipline or profession, or a group of related disciplines or professions. They are mostly non-profit organisations. Some also act as professional bodies. Learned Societies may offer their members a range of funding opportunities, including grants and awards.
You can use the list of Learned Societies on the QMUL website to see if there is one related to your academic discipline or profession, and if so, whether they have any funding opportunities which you could apply for:
Turn2us grant search
If you have particular circumstances, you could try using the Turn2us grant search which allows you to filter your search by criteria.
Some examples of relevant circumstances include:
- coming to university from care or homelessness
- belonging to certain professions (you or your family members)
- having a particular health issue or support need
- belonging to a particular religion
The Turn2us website includes detailed information about what help is available from charities and trusts, how to search the grants database, and how to apply for charitable funding.
Once you have identified the organisations you wish to contact, you are sure you are eligible to apply and the deadline has not passed, you will generally need to prepare a statement explaining how you meet the criteria, You may find it helpful to follow the suggestions listed under the ‘How to apply’ section of the Advice and Counselling Service charities and trusts webpages.
Sometimes, as part of the application procedure, charities and trusts may require a supporting letter from someone who can comment on your suitability to pursue your postgraduate studies. This could be an academic or other professional person who knows you. If there is no-one who can provide you with a supporting letter or if you need advice about making an application for funding from charities and trusts, contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service.
Some employers are willing to sponsor their employees to do postgraduate study, on either a full-time or part-time basis as part of their career development. If you are in employment you could consider asking your employer whether they can assist with the funding of postgraduate study. You will need to be able to convince them that a postgraduate qualification is worth their financial investment, in terms of the benefits that it will bring to you and to the business.
Your proposal to your employer will need to show that you have researched suitable courses, explain how studying a course will benefit you and your employer, and how you anticipate being able to manage the time commitment of studying alongside your job.
If your employer agrees, they may ask you to sign an agreement tying you into working for them for a specified period. Make sure important terms and conditions are agreed in writing, for example how much of the tuition fees your employer is paying, will you be given time off work for revision and exams, and will this be extra study days or will it be deducted from your annual leave entitlement?
There is useful information about employer sponsorship on the Prospects website.
The gov.uk website has information about employee rights to ask for time off work for training or study.
It is very common for postgraduate students to work part-time to top up their funding. Some academic schools have their own guidance about the maximum number of hours a week you should work to avoid this impacting negatively on your studies.
Many postgraduates study part-time so that they can work a more substantial number of hours each week alongside their studies.
For detailed information on working, including calculating how many hours a week you might need to work to meet any shortfall in your funding, the minimum wage, income tax, national insurance, where to look for a job and the rules for EU students see the Part-time and vacation work advice guide, which has been written by the Advice and Counselling Service and the QMUL Careers and Enterprise Centre.
I need to reduce my hours of work to start my postgraduate course
If you have been working full-time for several years, you are likely to need to adjust to a much lower level of income once you start your postgraduate course. Even if you get a stipend or other award, this may be much less than the salary you have been used to. You will need to consider how to adjust your spending to reflect your lower level of income. You might find it helpful to use the budgeting resources on the Advice and Counselling Service website. This includes a budget spreadsheet which you can personalise to calculate your own budget, and useful money saving ideas.
This is a way of gathering relatively small amounts of money from individual members of the public, which when combined might raise the total amount of funds to pay for a project. A few students have had success raising funds, using this system, to pay for their studies. This is commonly done using a crowdfunding website.
Crowdfunding websites usually allow you to set a funding target, post a video outlining your studies and explaining why you are asking people to fund you, and allow members of the public to pledge funds online. You normally have to pay a fee to use these websites and you should check the terms and conditions carefully before you sign up. Some schemes state that if you don’t reach your funding target in a certain time frame, the funds already pledged will be returned to the people who made them, although other schemes can offer more flexibility.
You can usually find a number of these organisations by searching the internet, although be aware that the majority of crowdfunding websites are not aimed at helping people to raise funds for studies – more commonly they are aimed at helping entrepreneurs who are starting a business - but you may be able to find some if you search carefully.
When planning your funding campaign, think carefully about what is unique about you and what you plan to achieve during and after your studies. Potential funders are more likely to offer you funds if they believe in you and share your ambitions for how your studies will be of value to you and the wider community.
Savethestudent.org has a webpage on how to crowdfund your degree you might like to have a look at which provides lots of useful advice about crowdfunding options.
Student bank accounts
If you are moving straight from undergraduate to postgraduate study, you may still have your student bank account with an interest free overdraft facility. However, if you have had a gap between undergraduate and postgraduate study, your account may have been switched to a graduate account. When you return to full-time study, ask your bank if you can switch your account back to a student account so that you can benefit from an interest free overdraft facility. As long as you are paying a regular and reliable source of income into your account, you should be eligible for a student bank account as a postgraduate.
If it is some time since you had a student account, you may want to compare what is on offer and consider switching banks if you can find a better account. The moneysavingexpert website compares different student bank accounts and gives information and top tips on opening and running a student account.
The Save the student website also has a comparison of student bank accounts and advice on how to choose the best account for you.
Make sure that you keep a close check on your account so that you do not exceed your agreed overdraft limit, as this can incur large penalty charges. Different banks have different terms and conditions - some impose charges for each day you exceed your limit while others will charge a one off fee. Always read the terms and conditions of your overdraft facility so you are aware of what will happen if you exceed your overdraft limit. If you feel that you will need an increased overdraft limit for a period of time, try and plan ahead and negotiate with your bank so you avoid paying excessive fees and charges for an unauthorised overdraft.
One factor to consider when choosing a student bank account is what will happen to your account when you complete your studies. For more information and a comparison of graduate bank accounts see the Money Saving Expert website.
You might not be able to get an interest-free overdraft facility in the same way as a UK student, particularly if you have just moved to the UK. However, you may be able to negotiate one with your bank if you have a regular and reliable income, or if you have an account with the same bank in your home country, or if you have lived in the UK for some time.
University Hardship Funds
The University Financial Assistance Fund at QMUL can provide financial support (usually a non-repayable grant) to students who are experiencing financial hardship. You can apply in each year of your programme, and more than once if your circumstances change during an academic year.
You must show that you have made reasonable provision to support yourself and any dependents through your studies before you apply to this fund. You should be able to show that you have made use of any overdraft facility available to you.
The fund cannot help pay tuition fees.
How do I apply?
You can get an application form and more information from the Student Enquiry Centre (ground floor, Queens’ Building, Mile End campus), the Advice and Counselling Service, the Students’ Union, and the Student Office at Whitechapel. Or download a form and guidance notes.
You can make a ‘standard’ application for help to meet general living costs associated with being a student such as rent, food, books etc. The guidance notes explain how standard applications are assessed. You can apply for a ‘non-standard’ award if you have unforeseen or exceptional costs and you are in financial hardship as a result of these. For example, you may be unable to do your part-time job for a short period due to illness or injury, and may need help with your loss of income, or you might have to pay travel costs for a family emergency, or you may need help with unexpected essential household repairs.
If you are a part-time postgraduate student who is awarded financial help from the Financial Assistance Fund, you can apply for a student 18+Oystercard. Your QMUL Financial Assistance Fund award letter explains how to apply for this.
If you would like help applying, contact a Welfare Adviser at the Advice and Counselling Service before you submit your application. A Welfare Adviser can help you explain your circumstances and can also advise you on what evidence would be required.
The Dean’s Benevolence Fund
This fund can only help medical or dental postgraduate students in very exceptional circumstances. Postgraduate students are expected to have adequate funding in place for their course, and if this isn’t the case then you may need to consider interrupting your studies if you are unable to afford to continue.
If you feel that there are exceptional reasons why you are experiencing financial hardship, we advise that you contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service to discuss applying to the Deans Benevolence Fund.
Alternatively, you can collect an application form and guidance from the Student Office at the Whitechapel campus or from the Advice and Counselling Service at the Mile End campus.
Emergency and Short Term Loans
If you are in sudden financial difficulty and you need to borrow a small amount of cash, you can apply for an emergency interest-free cash loan from the university.
If your funding or other money you are expecting is temporarily delayed, you can apply for a short term loan interest-free from the university to help pay your living costs until your money arrives.
Short term loans from the 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 wages to be paid 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 online including a link to complete a short form to arrange an appointment with a member of staff in the SU to discuss your application.
The QMSU Club Sport Hardship Fund
The QMSU Club Sport Hardship Fund will be used to subsidise costs associated with sports participation for students in financial hardship. This is intended to remove the financial barriers which can prevent many students from accessing sport. By widening access to sport, more students will be given the opportunity to improve their physical and mental well-being, as well as gain transitional employability skills.
For more information and an application form, please see the QMSU webpage. The application form explains which groups of students are considered a priority for this fund. Applications are considered each month, so you need to apply by the last Friday of the month to get a decision by the middle of the following month.
The University Financial Assistance Fund can assist with short-term and urgent situations only; it cannot provide the main support for your costs, and it cannot help with tuition fee payments. For example, you could apply to the fund if your main source of funds is temporarily disrupted, or if you have a sudden unexpected cost. In your application you would need to explain how you would normally have met your costs and why this funding is currently unavailable. You should explain how long you expect to be in financial difficulties, and what you have done to try and resolve the situation yourself.
EU medical and dental students can apply to the Dean’s Benevolence Fund. You should first apply to the University Financial Assistance Fund, if you are eligible.
EU students can only apply for a short term loan if you have a guaranteed source of income from which you will be able to repay it. However you can still apply for an emergency loan.
Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA)
What is DSA?
This is a grant from Student Finance England. If you have a disability (including mental health) or specific learning difficulty, the DSA can help pay costs of (2017/18 figures):
- specialist equipment: up to £5,358 per year
- non-medical helpers: up to £21,305 per year
- general support: up to £1,790
- additional travel costs: reasonable spending on extra travel costs beyond everyday travel costs
How much can I get?
The amount of DSA awarded depends on the recommendations of a needs assessment carried out by a specialist assessment centre. The cost of the needs assessment can be paid for from the DSA and the QMUL Disability and Dyslexia Service can advise you further on this, including how to arrange a needs assessment and how to apply for the DSA.
I think I have a disability – can DSA cover the cost of establishing this?
The DSA cannot be used to pay for establishing your disability, so you will need to have documentation to confirm your disability, such as a GP letter. The QMUL Disability and Dyslexia Service can advise you about what documentation is acceptable.
I’m a part-time postgraduate – can I still get DSA?
You can apply for the DSA if your postgraduate programme (including a distance learning programme) is full-time or part-time and lasts at least one year.
I’m getting Research Council funding – can I still get DSA?
You won't normally qualify for DSAs if you're a postgraduate student getting Research Council funding. You are advised to contact the Disability and Dyslexia Service at QMUL for advice about what support is available.
I’m getting funding from QMUL – can I get still get DSA?
If your QMUL funding includes equivalent DSA support, you will not be able to also get DSA.
Where can I find out more about DSA?
More information about DSA, and the application form, is available online.
Contact the Disability and Dyslexia Service at QMUL for help applying for DSAs. It is advisable to contact the Disability and Dyslexia Service at QMUL well in advance of the start of your course so that your DSA and any other support arrangements can be organised by the time you enrol.
If you are funding your studies yourself, e.g. from savings, a loan or your family, you should ensure that these funds are adequate to pay for all of your costs while studying, including costs you need to pay relating to your disability, as you cannot normally apply for Disabled Students Allowances. This is because DSA eligibility is based on the personal eligibility rules for UK government Student Finance.
Personal eligibility is normally limited to EU nationals who have already been living in the UK for at least three years when they start their course, or who are an EEA or Swiss worker/the family member of an EEA or Swiss worker. There are some other limited eligibility categories of EU/EEA nationals and family members of EU/EEA nationals. For more information about all categories see the UKCISA website.
Some limited funding from the university may be available to EU nationals in certain circumstances. Contact the QMUL Disability and Dyslexia Service to discuss your situation.
Am I eligible to claim welfare benefits?
I’m a full-time postgraduate student
Most full-time postgraduate students cannot claim welfare benefits. However, you may be able to claim certain benefits if you fall within the excepted group of students who can claim which includes:
- lone parents
- disabled students or students with ongoing ill-health
- students who are part of a student couple with a child
Some welfare benefits have specific rules for full-time students. For example, whether or not you can get welfare benefits as a full-time student with a disability or illness will depend on how long you have been disabled or ill, how your disability affects you on a daily basis and what other income you have.
I’m a part-time postgraduate student
There are no specific rules for part-time students so if you are a part-time postgraduate student and already claiming welfare benefits, then as long as you continue to satisfy the rules for those welfare benefits, you can continue your claim.
If you are available for and actively seeking work, you may be able to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit – see below. This may include PhD students who are writing up on a part-time basis.
Which benefits can I claim?
If you meet the basic eligibility rules for a particular welfare benefit, you might be eligible to claim welfare benefits including Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), Income Support (IS), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Housing Benefit (HB) and Tax Credits. For an overview of how to apply for and claim these benefits you can search for them individually on the gov.uk website.
If you think you might be eligible to claim welfare benefits, contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service for advice about your eligibility.
Will my student income affect my benefit entitlement?
If you are eligible for welfare benefits, you are required tell each of the offices that pay your benefit(s) about your income including any income you get for your studies. This could include income from the Postgraduate Loan, from bank loans, from earnings or from university scholarships or stipends. How much benefit you get will depend on what income can be counted in the assessment of your welfare benefits under the relevant welfare benefits rules. A Welfare Adviser can advise you what income would be counted.
If you are a lone parent or have a disability or ongoing health condition, you may find it useful to read the Advice and Counselling Service’s web pages for student parents, and our advice guide Extra Money for Disability and Ill Health for more information about claiming benefits while studying. These guides include information about how student income is counted within the benefits assessments.
Like most UK students, you cannot normally claim benefits while studying full time. As an EU national studying in the UK, you are legally required to support yourself financially without relying on social assistance. For most welfare benefits, you must show that you have lived in the UK for a certain length of time before you can claim. Contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service for more information.
Tax credits help people who are on a low income. You do not need to have children to claim certain tax credits. There are two types of tax credits: Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. You may be eligible for one or both. They are income assessed and paid by HM Revenue and Customs. You can get a claim form from the Tax Credits helpline: 0845 300 3900. Please note that tax credits are going to gradually be replaced by Universal Credit. For more information about eligibility for tax credits and how to claim, see the gov.uk website.
Some EEA nationals can claim tax credits if they satisfy certain residence conditions. Contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service if you need more information.
Discounts, reductions and exemptions
Although the focus of this guide is on sources of funding, postgraduate students can improve their financial circumstances by taking advantage of discounts, price reductions and exemptions from some payments and charges. Depending on your situation, you can possibly benefit from:
- Income tax refund if you earn less than your annual personal allowance
- 30% discount on Transport for London travelcards with the 18+ Student Oyster photocard
- NUS discounts in shops, restaurants and cinemas
- Help with health costs under the NHS low income scheme
How much will my tuition fee be?
The amount of tuition fee you will have to pay depends on whether your programme is taught or research and what subject you are studying. You can find full details of postgraduate tuition fees online:
When do I need to pay my tuition fees
You need to ensure that you have funding available to pay your tuition fees in line with the payment requirements outlined below. Failing to pay tuition fees by the deadline can result in deregistration.
Self-funded Taught Postgraduates
You have the following options for paying your tuition fees:
- Pay in full at or before enrolment. You may be eligible for an early payment discount of 1%, or
- Pay 50% at or before enrolment. Sign a payment agreement to pay the remaining 50% by 31st January (for programmes starting in September), or
- Pay 50% at or before enrolment. Sign a payment agreement to pay the remaining 50% by 30th April (for programmes starting in January)
Please note that any instalment agreement will incur a £50 administration fee.
Students who have been awarded a postgraduate loan
If you have been awarded a loan that will cover the full cost of your tuition fees, QMUL will allow you to pay in three instalments in line with the dates when you receive your loan payments.
If your loan does not cover the full cost of your tuition fees, QMUL will normally allow the fees that will be covered by the loan to be paid in three instalments (as above) and the remaining amount to be repaid in line with the policy for self-funded students (50% on enrolment and 50% at the end of January). Please note that any instalment agreement will incur a £50 administration fee.
There are some worked examples of the different payment arrangements online.
Self-funded Research students
Postgraduate students enrolling on a research degree may start their programme on the first day of the month any time throughout the academic year, in agreement with your academic school.
You have the following options for paying your tuition fees:
- Pay in full at or before enrolment. This is the only option for students enrolling after1st February. You may be eligible for an early payment discount of 1% or
- Pay 50% paid at or before enrolment, and sign a payment agreement to pay the remaining 50% by the last working day of the fourth month after enrolment, provided enrolment is before 1st February
Please note that any instalment agreement will incur a £50 administration fee.
What will be my tuition fee liability if I interrupt or withdraw from my programme?
Once you enrol on a programme of study, you are immediately liable to pay tuition fees. You must pay at least 50% in order to enrol. If you are unable to pay the remaining 50% by the deadline (see above), you are liable to be deregistered from the university - see the later 'Deregistration' section of this advice guide for more information.
If you withdraw from your programme completely, or take time out from your studies (‘interrupt’) your tuition fee liability is as follows (this information is taken from the QMUL Tuition Fee Regulations 2017/18):
- If your interruption of study or withdrawal from studies date is before the first day of semester 2, you are liable to pay 50% of your total annual tuition fee for that academic year
- If your interruption of study or withdrawal from studies date is on or after the first day of semester 2, you are liable to pay 100% of your total annual tuition fee for that academic year
Your tuition fee liability for the current academic year will be calculated on a pro-rata basis, based on the interruption of study or withdrawal date that is agreed with your supervisor, academic school and the Research Degrees Office (RDO). Once this date is agreed, and you have submitted your interruption form to the RDO, contact the QMUL Finance office for advice about your tuition fee liability: firstname.lastname@example.org There is more information about how the pro-rata fee is calculated in the Tuition Fee Regulations.
If I interrupt my studies, what tuition fee will I have to pay when I resume my studies?
Self-funded taught postgraduates
If you resume your studies at the start of semester 1, you are liable to pay 100% of the total annual tuition fee for that academic year. If you resume your studies on or after the start of semester 2, you are liable to pay 50% of the total annual tuition fee for that academic year. You will be charged the same annual rate of tuition fee as a new student starting the course, which may be a higher fee than you originally paid. However, if your interruption was due to pregnancy or disability, you will only pay an annual fee increase in line with inflation.
Self-funded research students
Your tuition fee liability for the current academic year will be calculated on a pro-rata basis, based on the date that your supervisor, academic school and the Research Degrees Office have agreed you can resume your studies. You will be charged the same annual rate of tuition fee as a new student starting the course, which may be a higher fee than you originally paid for that academic year of your course. However, if your interruption was due to pregnancy or disability, you will only pay an annual fee increase in line with inflation. Contact the QMUL Finance office for advice about your exact pro rata tuition fee liability once you know what your resumption of study date is: email@example.com
Funded taught and research students
If you are going to be taking more time to complete your studies than is normally required for your programme, contact the QMUL Finance office and the organisation or QMUL department that pays your studentship, to find out if you will need to pay fees yourself for a period of study. Research students should contact the QMUL Research Degrees office.
Can I get any refund of my tuition fees if I interrupt or withdraw?
If you are interrupting your studies, any excess that you have paid during the year when you took your interruption of study will normally be retained by QMUL and put towards your fee liability in the academic year that you resume your studies in.
If you withdraw from QMUL and you have paid tuition fees in excess of your actual tuition fee liability for your period of study, you may be eligible for a partial refund of the excess amount of tuition fees paid. The refund arrangements are set out in the QMUL Tuition Fee Regulations.
Where can I find more information about tuition fees?
This web page explains when and how your tuition fees are payable, and the consequences of non-payment:
Changes to your studies – interrupting, withdrawing, re- sitting, transferring
Sometimes, despite your best efforts to plan and fund your postgraduate study, you may encounter unexpected academic, financial or personal difficulties which can disrupt your studies. Try to get advice as soon as possible so that you can understand your options and make an informed decision about what to do.
This section outlines the academic and financial options which may be available to you if your circumstances change during your studies. Once you have read this information, if you need advice about your own situation, please contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service.
Feel like leaving?
Many students have doubts about whether they can continue with their studies. You might feel that you have rushed your decision about doing postgraduate study, or feel that you would be more suited to a different programme. Postgraduate study can be very different to undergraduate study – course fees may be higher and the workload more intense. Sometimes personal or financial circumstances mean that you can’t give your studies the attention that you would like to.
Whatever your reason for considering leaving, or taking some time out, staff at QMUL can support and advise you. It is important not to rush into a decision until you have really thought about it. Talking to someone who is used to advising students about these issues, might help you to consider options you did not know about.
Think about your decision
- Are you really struggling with the course, or do you just lack confidence about your ability?
- Is your course really the problem? Maybe other problems are getting in the way.
- Do you feel pressured to study a subject that you don’t really enjoy?
- Do you need to know more about other courses or career options before you can make an informed decision?
- Is this the right time for you to be at university at all?
- Are you are worried about keeping up with your academic work, writing essays or preparing for exams?
- Are you finding it hard to motivate yourself to do your research?
If these questions sound familiar, it can be useful to get help and support before you make your decision:
- Contact the Advice and Counselling Service for advice and support with practical, financial or personal issues.
- The Emotional Wellbeing section of the Advice and Counselling Service website has resources you might find helpful.
- Make an appointment to see your supervisor, personal tutor or academic adviser for help thinking through your options
- Find out about study skills support at QMUL.
- Visit the QMUL Careers and Enterprise Centre to find out about other courses or career options.
Think about the practical implications of your decision
- How easy will it be to find work if you leave?
- How will you support yourself financially?
- How will you pay back any loans that becomes due once you have ceased full-time study?
- Will you need to repay any funds to your financial sponsor?
- How do you complete the university’s administrative formalities if you leave your course?
- Would it make more sense to try and interrupt your studies rather than leave?
- What are your options for resuming postgraduate study in the future?
Before you make a decision, it is vital that you get accurate information about these issues and consider all the practical and financial implications involved. This is especially important if you are receiving sponsorship or funding towards the cost of your studies.
Taking time out (‘interrupting’)
You might decide that you need to take a break from your studies for personal or medical reasons. At QMUL, this is called ‘interrupting’ your studies and it is fairly straightforward, as long as your academic school agrees. Speak to your supervisor, personal tutor or academic adviser first, to discuss why you feel that you need to interrupt, and to agree when would be the best time for you to return.
How can I interrupt?
You need to complete an interruption of study form. Collect one from the Student Enquiry Centre on the ground floor of the Queens’ Building, Mile End campus, or from the Student Office at the Whitechapel campus. Alternatively, you can access the form and guidance notes online.
Your academic school or institute will need to sign the form to say that your interruption and proposed return date have been approved. Your school will submit the completed form to the Student Enquiry Centre for you. The deadline for interrupting is normally the last working day before the university’s revision week. In 2018/19 the deadline is Thursday 18th April 2019.
If you miss the deadline but feel that you are unfit to sit exams or submit coursework due to medical or personal circumstances, you need to consider making a claim under the university’s Extenuating Circumstances policy. Full guidance on this policy and how to submit a claim is explained in the Advice and Counselling Service advice guide ‘Extenuating Circumstances’.
You can usually interrupt your studies for up to one year initially. A maximum total period of two years interruption is permitted during a programme of study, with good cause. In very exceptional circumstances longer interruptions may be permitted. The minimum period of interruption is one month and interruptions must be in multiples of whole months. A period of interruption does not count towards the minimum or maximum period for the research studies programme. You can download an interruption of study form and detailed guidance notes which explain the procedures for interrupting.
Paid interruptions of QMUL Research Studentships
Research Studentship funded students are allowed up to 4 months’ paid maternity leave and the termination date of the studentship will be extended by the same period. A further period of up to 8 months’ unpaid maternity leave can also be requested. Up to two weeks’ paid paternity leave is permitted, but the termination date of the studentship will remain unchanged. A student can also request a further period of unpaid leave as an interruption of study.
Research Studentship funded students are permitted up to 13 weeks’ paid leave due to illness. Medical certification must be submitted to the Research Degrees Office if you are absent due to an illness of more than 2 weeks. Note that any period of paid leave is considered part of your normal period of funding, and not paid in addition to it. Therefore if you need to apply to extend your completion date as a result of this period of ill health, the last few weeks of your studies will normally be unfunded.
Following an interruption of studies, the studentship termination date may be adjusted in accordance with the QMUL Graduate School Director’s guidelines.
Research Studentship funded students may be entitled to paid annual leave of up to 30 days. Check with the Research Degrees Office what your entitlement is. If you are considering interrupting your studies for the minimum period of a month, you may wish to consider taking this as annual leave so that your termination date of funding is not affected.
For more information about your options contact the Research Degrees office. You may also wish to refer to Academic Regulations - What's changed for 2017/18. [DOC 315KB]
What about my tuition fee liability if I interrupt or withdraw from my studies?
See the Tuition Fees section of this advice guide for more information.
What happens to my funding or welfare benefits if I am interrupting or re- sitting out of attendance?
If you are receiving a government Postgraduate Loan for Master’s Study, you are not normally entitled to receive any further loan payments after your date of interruption, until you resume study. However, SFE does have discretion to continue making payments during an interruption if they consider it appropriate to do so given your circumstances. If you feel that you would not be able to manage financially without continuing to receive loan payments, please contact a Welfare Adviser for advice about applying to SFE for discretionary funding. However, bear in mind that there is no re-take funding for the Postgraduate Loan, so if you continue to receive payments during an interruption, this money won’t be available to you when you resume studies – this is explained the Retaking a period of study in attendance section of this guide.
Where you resume study after an interruption of two years or more (whether this is a continuous period or a cumulative total of shorter interruptions), further payments will only be released where you provide evidence of a compelling personal reason for having been absent.
If you receive funding through a sponsoring agency or organisation, check directly with them how interrupting your studies or re-sitting out of attendance may affect your funding. If you receive funding through QMUL, see the section above for instances where you may continue to receive funding for maternity/paternity leave, ill health leave and annual leave.
If you are not eligible to continue to receive your student funding while you are interrupting your studies or re-sitting out of attendance, you will normally need to work to support yourself during this period, and/or rely on support from family or friends. You may be able to claim welfare benefits in certain circumstances – see below.
If you normally study on a full time course, you will not normally be eligible to claim welfare benefits like Jobseeker’s Allowance or Housing Benefit while you are interrupting your studies or re-sitting out of attendance. This is because the welfare benefit rules consider you to still be a full time student during this period, and most full time students are not eligible to claim. However, there are some exceptions where students can claim:
- If you have a disability or ongoing medical condition, or you are a lone parent, you may be able to claim welfare benefits while you are re-sitting or interrupting. If you are already in receipt of welfare benefits, these should continue while you are re-sitting or interrupting your studies. Contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service for more information. You may also find it helpful to refer to our advice guide Extra money for disability and ill health and our web pages for students with children.
- Students who interrupt because they are ill, or to care for someone else, may be entitled to claim certain benefits for a limited period after they recover or caring responsibilities end but they are waiting to return to university. Contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service for more information.
- If you have attended your programme for the duration normally required to complete it, but you have to re-sit your final examinations or re-submit your dissertation, and you are no longer required to actually ‘attend’ university, you should be able to claim welfare benefits in accordance with the normal eligibility criteria. Contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service if you are having difficulty claiming.
If you are re-sitting exams out of attendance and you need to give up work a few weeks before your exams so that you can revise, you may be able to get help from QMUL’s Financial Assistance Fund. See the earlier University Hardship Funds section of this advice guide for more information, or contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service.
What university services can I use while I am interrupting or re-sitting out of attendance?
Check with your academic school what contact you can expect to have with academic staff during a period of interruption or re-sitting out of attendance. Some schools have specific support in place to help students to remain engaged with their studies and to remedy any academic issues that have affected progression. You could also contact the QMUL learning development team if you need help planning your revision.
Research students should not work on your research during a period of interruption.
You will automatically be given access to the library with limited borrowing rights.
Your access to IT Services will remain the same while you are interrupting or re-sitting out of attendance. However, if you do not use your email account for a long time, you will be sent an email asking if you want to keep the account open. If you do not respond to this email, and you are not enrolled, your email account will be disabled.
You are not eligible to live in university residences while you are interrupting your studies. You must contact Housing Services as soon as you have your interruption of study date approved and provide them with a copy of your QMUL Interruption of Study form.
You will have to complete a Notice of Intention to Vacate form (NIV) giving 28 days written notice of your intention to leave university residences. You will remain liable for residential fees for the full 28 days, and once this period has expired and you have returned your keys, your liability to pay residential fees will cease. If you would like to move out sooner, and if Housing Services find another student who can move in to your room before the 28 days expire, you may not need to pay your residential fees for the whole 28 day notice period.
If you are re-sitting out of attendance, you cannot normally live in university residences during that period. However, you can apply for a room in university residences for the re-sit exam period, but this is subject to availability. If you feel there are exceptional reasons why you need to live in university residences throughout the academic year, you should discuss your situation with QMUL Housing Services.
Disability and Dyslexia Service
Even if you have not previously been supported by the Disability and Dyslexia Service, you can still contact them for support while you are interrupting or re-sitting out of attendance.
Advice and Counselling Service
You can still use the Advice and Counselling Service while you are interrupting or re-sitting out of attendance.
You are not normally allowed to re-take a period of study in attendance, because students are expected to interrupt their studies if they are not fit to engage with their studies effectively. However, if you have an extenuating circumstances claim approved by the university, you might be granted a re-take in attendance as part of your claim.
If you are receiving a Postgraduate Loan for Master’s Study (PGL) and you need to re-take a period of study which you have already received a loan payment for, re-take periods will not be funded. For example, if you interrupted part way through semester one in the 2017-18 academic year, having received one of your three PGL instalments, if you resumed in September 2018 you would not be eligible for the first PGL instalment in the 2018-19 academic year. You would only be eligible for the second and third instalments in January and April 2019.
If you are granted a re-take in attendance, you must make sure that you have enough funding for this, as you will usually have to pay tuition fees for the re-take period.
If you are interrupting due to compelling personal reasons, it is worth considering whether you would be financially better off withdrawing, because you may then be able to get a full PGL if you restart a course in future – see the section of this guide on ‘What happens after I withdraw’.
For more information about the university’s extenuating circumstances claim process, see the Advice and Counselling Service advice guide Extenuating Circumstances.
Transferring to a new programme
Contact the Head of School for the programme you would like to join at QMUL or the admissions department of a new university if you wish to leave QMUL, to ask how you should apply for a place.
If you are taught student and you have been given permission to change programmes within QMUL, you will need to complete a Change of Programme form.
Research students should contact the Research Degrees office about a change of programme.
To leave your current course in order to go to a new university, fill out the relevant form here:
Contact the Research Degrees Office to see if you can transfer your research council funding to a different university.
If you are receiving a Postgraduate Loan for Master’s Study, and you are transferring to another eligible course, you can continue to receive the remainder of your loan entitlement. Your new course provider will need to inform Student Finance England of the transfer. If you transfer from an eligible course to an ineligible course, your Postgraduate Loan eligibility will end from the date of transfer and you should not receive any further payments. Previous payments made when you were attending the eligible course will not be reassessed. Any loan payments made subsequently from the point of transfer to an ineligible course will be treated as an overpayment, and collection of the loan overpayment will be sought prior to the Statutory Repayment Due Date.
Withdrawing from QMUL
This means leaving QMUL completely. To return to a course at QMUL in future you would need to apply as a new student.
You need to complete a ‘Withdrawal from university’ form available from the Student Enquiry Centre on the ground floor of the Queens’ building, Mile End campus, or the Student Office at the Whitechapel campus, or online.
Your academic school will need to sign the form to say that your withdrawal has been approved and they will submit the form to the Student Enquiry Centre.
You need to complete a ‘Withdrawal from University’ form available from the Research Degrees Office or online.
You will need to discuss this form, and your proposed withdrawal from QMUL, with your supervisor or director of graduate studies. Make some copies of the completed form for your own records before submitting it to the Research Degrees Office.
If you receive formal funding or sponsorship, write to whoever provides your funding to tell them that you have left university completely. Include a copy of the university withdrawal form and keep copies of everything you send.
If you were receiving a Postgraduate Loan for Master’s Study, all future payments will be cancelled from the date of withdrawal. You will be allowed to keep the loan payment which you have already received for the payment period in which you withdraw, i.e. this will not be treated as an overpayment. You would only have an overpayment if SFE had made a payment to you after your date of withdrawal, for example because they were not notified early enough to cancel your next payment. Any overpayment will due to be repaid before the statutory repayment due date, unless you can demonstrate that to do so would cause you financial hardship.
If you later decide you want to start a new Masters programme, if you are able to demonstrate that you were unable to complete the previous Masters due to compelling personal reasons, then SFE has discretion to award you one further Postgraduate Loan for a new programme. Our understanding is that this provision would also apply if you are re-starting the same course which you previously withdrew from, as long as you can show that you had to withdraw due to compelling personal reasons.
Withdrawing from your course completely means you are no longer a student. You would normally be eligible to apply for Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Support, Tax Credits, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction under the standard benefit rules. See the Welfare Benefits section of this advice guide for more information.
What is deregistration?
Deregistration means you are no longer a student of QMUL and as a result, will not be able to continue your programme of study – this means you cannot use any university facilities, attend classes, or sit examinations. The ‘failure to pay’ section of the university’s Tuition Fee Regulations explains the deregistration procedure.
When does deregistration happen?
If you do not pay your tuition fees by the stated deadline, you will normally be deregistered from QMUL. As stated in the Tuition Fees section of this advice guide, this is normally 31st January for students who start in the autumn or 30th April for those who commence in January.
Once the payment deadline has passed, if you still owe tuition fees you will receive a letter from QMUL giving a further deadline to clear the outstanding balance within 10 days. If you fail to do this, you will normally be deregistered.
You may also be deregistered for other reasons during the academic year, for example for non- attendance on your programme of study. However, deregistration would generally be the final option, after your academic school had exhausted all possible options to help you engage with your studies.
How can I get reinstated on to my programme of study?
If you have been deregistered for non-payment of tuition fees, you will have to pay your outstanding tuition fees and an administrative charge of £250 by 31st July of the same year you have been deregistered in order to be reinstated onto your course. If you do this, you will normally be able to resume your studies at QMUL but no earlier than 12 months following your date of deregistration. If you cannot pay your outstanding balance plus £250 by 31st July, you cannot normally be reinstated at QMUL.
Under the current tuition fee regulations, if you are able to pay your outstanding balance plus £250 by 31st July, when you return to complete the academic year in which you were deregistered, you will have no further tuition fee to pay for that academic year. This is not the case for students returning to study following an interruption - see the Tuition Fees section of this advice guide.
Can I appeal or make a complaint about being deregistered?
Yes, you may appeal the decision to deregister you. The letter you receive informing you that you have been deregistered should explain that you have a right of appeal against your deregistration. If you decide you want to appeal, you must do so within 14 days of the date stated on that letter. As deregistration relates to progression on your programme of study, you need to submit an appeal and not a complaint. However, if you are not looking to reverse the deregistration decision, but wish to complain about other matters you could consider making a complaint. You must submit your complaint within 3 months of the date stated on your deregistration letter.
To find out how to make an appeal or complaint, see the Student Appeals, Complaints and Conduct Office webpages.
Before you submit your appeal or complaint, it may be useful for you to take independent advice from the Academic Advice manager Annie Mitchell in the Students Union.
How will I financially support myself?
Once you are deregistered, you would no longer be a student, so you would usually be expected to self-fund, for example through working. You should also be eligible to claim certain welfare benefits such as Job Seeker’s Allowance or Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, if you meet the main eligibility rules for claiming.
However, if you are then re-instated at QMUL following payment of any outstanding tuition fees and you resume your full-time student status, you would become ineligible to claim welfare benefits, unless you fall into one of the groups of students who can claim benefits despite being a full-time student, such as a lone parent, or a student with a disability or ongoing ill health.
If you have been deregistered from a part-time course, you would continue to be eligible for welfare benefits provided you met the main eligibility rules for claiming. See the Welfare benefits section of this advice guide for more information.
Appendix – eligibility for the Postgraduate Loan
The following is a very broad list of people who may meet the eligibility criteria for a UK Government Postgraduate 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. Please note that at the end of this section there are explanations of the meaning of the terms ‘settled status’ and ‘ordinarily resident’.
- A person who on the first day of the first academic year of the course (this is 1st September for courses starting between September and December) 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 1stSeptember, and not wholly or mainly to receive full-time education.
- A person who on the first day of the first academic year of the course (this is 1st September for courses starting between September and December) 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 1st 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.
- 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 (this is 1st September for courses starting between September and December). There is also provision for the spouse, civil partner or child of a refugee to be eligible, subject to certain criteria.
- 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 (this is 1st September for courses starting between September and December), and who has been ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands throughout the 3 year period immediately before 1st There is also provision for the spouse, civil partner or child of a person granted humanitarian protection to be eligible, subject to certain criteria.
- 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 (this is 1st September for courses starting between September and December), or EEA and Swiss nationals who are frontier workers (including as self-employed). You must have been ordinarily resident in the EEA or Switzerland for the 3 year period immediately before 1st The relevant family members of such people 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.
- A person who is settled in the UK, who was ordinarily resident in England, and has exercised their right of residence to live in the EEA or Switzerland for the 3 years immediately before 1st September of the year in which they start their course. 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 be ordinarily resident in the UK on the day on which the first term of the first academic year actually begins.
- 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 (this is 1st September for courses starting between September and December), 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.
- A person who is a non-UK EU national on the first day of the first academic year of the course (this is 1st September for courses starting between September and December), 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 1st September, 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.
- Children of Swiss nationals, subject to certain specific criteria – please check with a Welfare Adviser.
- Children of Turkish workers – please check with a Welfare Adviser.
- A person who has long residence in the UK. Specifically on the first day of the first academic year of the course (this is 1st September for courses starting between September and December) 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 1st September, and have been ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands throughout the 3 year period immediately before 1st September, 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, there is a new category of eligibility. This is for 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.
I’m from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland - can I receive a PGL?
Our current understanding is that UK nationals 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 (1st September), and
- You should have been living here for at least 3 months immediately prior to 1st September; 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. 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.
The application form requires you to provide three years of address history.
For courses starting in 2017-18, the Welsh government will be offering PGLs to Welsh domiciled students to study anywhere in the UK.There is more information on the findamasters.com website. Scottish domiciled students can also 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 findamasterswebpage.
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 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.