When Amy Booth realised that funding a master’s degree in the UK was beyond her, she decided to go much farther afield – Argentina, to be precise. She’s currently finishing the second year of a master’s in political and social theory at the University of Buenos Aires. “My family could have given me some financial support, but the fees alone would have been between £8,000 and £14,000 for this kind of master’s at UK universities, and I would have needed to pay the costs of living on top,” she says. By contrast, her master’s in Buenos Aires costs just £131 for her matriculation fee, and a monthly fee of around £60.

Booth isn’t alone in finding it hard to fund her master’s. Although students can now access postgraduate loans that cover fees and living costs, universities are also hiking tuition fees. The most recent figures from the Complete University Guide’s annual survey shows that the average fee for home and EU students taking a classroom-based taught postgrad course is now £7,400 – an increase of 8.3%. But if bgoing abroad isn’t practical, how can you fund your master’s in the UK?

Many charities have grants of all sizes available for master’s funding. You’ll find the most comprehensive list of these in the Grants Register, published every year – it contains information on 1,200 awarding bodies in 58 countries. If you’re doing a master’s in a particular subject or sector, identify the main trusts and foundations that operate in that field and have serious money to give away, such as the Wellcome Trust for health-related issues.

Research councils such as the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) or the Medical Research Council (MRC) are another potential source of funding, again depending on your chosen subject. Scholarships, grants and bursaries may also be available. Check on sites such as Thescholarshiphub or with your course provider.

Rosemary Proctor used three scholarships to fund her graduate diploma in law (GDL) and bar professional training course (BPTC) where she’s currently studying at BPP University Law School Manchester. She holds an advocacy scholarship from BPP, and a Lord Brougham GDL scholarship and a Lord Denning BPTC scholarship from Lincoln’s Inn. “Google was my best friend when I was applying, as I discovered that my course providers had a selection of awards,” she says. “Eligibility for some of these is means-based, and I’m unaware of any award that would cover the entirety of anyone’s course fees and living expenses for the GDL or BPTC – but course provider awards are still a great supplement and can make all the difference.”

However, she also used her own money. “While recognising that it may simply be impossible for many people, I’d advise taking a year out to work in between undergraduate and graduate study. I came away with a decent pot of savings and a bit of work experience.”

It’s also worth considering if the university where you took your undergraduate degree may also offer discounts for returning postgraduates. The University of Surrey, for example, is offering 10% off taught master’s fees for alumni, while the University of Westminster offers 15%.

And some postgraduates are even turning to crowdfunding – it’s a particularly popular way of raising money for arts master’s degrees. On GoFundMe, students are currently raising money to fund masters in contemporary dance, theatre directing, and music, along with more traditional subjects such as law. But while many have ambitious targets, few seem to raise more than a couple of hundred pounds, so you may also need to look elsewhere.




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