Postgraduate Funding

It is your responsibility to ensure you have sufficient funds to pay your annual tuition fees and cover living expenses.

In Summer 2018 the Government will be launching the PhD loan and this page will outline what you need to know about it. There are alternative, often competitive, sources of funding support for PhD students, however, and they are listed below.  If you wish to pursue these you need to make sure you start your search for funding early, understand the options available to you, and learn the relevant procedures and closing dates.

More detailed information on funding opportunities for postgraduate students can be obtained from the Student Funding Office.

Money Advice:

Tel: (+44) 01782 734481


Grants, Studentships and Awards

The PHD Loan

The UK Government PhD loan is for students looking to study PhD programmes from Summer 2018. Any amount up to £25,000 can be borrowed, and can be used to pay for tuition fees, but also other costs associated with study, such as accommodation, travel, etc.

  • You can borrow up to £25,000 for your whole course.
  • The amount you’ll get isn’t based on you or your family’s income.
  • The loan is paid directly to you. You can use it for your course fees and living costs.
  • The loan will be divided equally across each year of your course.


You get the first payment after your course start date, once your university or college confirms that you’ve registered.

The loan will be paid in 3 instalments of 33%, 33% and 34% each 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.


Whether you qualify depends on:

  • your course
  • your age
  • your nationality or residency status

You won’t be able to get a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan if:

  • you’ve received or will receive Research Council funding (for example, studentships, stipends, scholarships and tuition fee support)
  • you’re receiving a social work bursary
  • you’re eligible to apply for an NHS bursary (even if you’re not receiving it)
  • you’re already getting payments from student finance for another course that you’re studying
  • you’ve received a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan before - unless you left your course due to illness, bereavement or another serious personal reason
  • you already have a doctoral degree, or a qualification that’s equivalent or higher
  • you’re receiving a doctorate by publication
  • you’re behind in repayments for any previous loans from the Student Loans Company


It 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

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

It can be:

  • full-time or part-time
  • taught or research-based, or a combination of both

Examples of postgraduate doctoral qualifications include:

  • PhD / DPhil (Doctor of Philosophy)
  • EdD (Doctor of Education)
  • EngD (Doctor of Engineering)


You must be under 60 on the first day of the first academic year of your course.

The academic year is a period of 12 months starting on:

  • 1 September, if your course starts between 1 August and 31 December
  • 1 January, if your course starts between 1 January and 31 March
  • 1 April, if your course starts between 1 April and 30 June
  • 1 July, if your course starts between 1 July and 31 July 


You can get the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan if all of the following apply:

  • you’re a UK or EU national, or have ‘settled status’, so there are no restrictions on how long you can stay
  • you normally live in England, and didn’t move there just to study
  • you’ll have lived in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for 3 years before starting your course

You may also be eligible if you’re an EU national and all the following apply:

  • you’re living in England on the first day of the first year of your course
  • you’ve normally lived in the European Economic Area or Switzerland for the past 3 years (this is also known as being ‘ordinarily resident’)
  • you’ll be studying at a university in England

You could also be eligible if you’re:

  • the child of a Swiss national
  • the child of a Turkish worker
  • a refugee or a relative of one
  • an EEA or Swiss migrant worker, or a relative of one
  • under humanitarian protection or a relative of someone who has been granted it
  • 18 or over and have lived in the UK for at least 20 years or at least half your life


The earliest you start repaying is when your annual income is over £21,000 and it’s either the:

  • first April after you leave your course
  • April 4 years after the course started

You’ll pay back 6% of your income over the minimum amount (‘threshold’). This is £21,000 a year, £1,750 a month or £404 a week. If you already have a Postgraduate Master’s Loan then you’ll make a combined repayment of 6% covering both postgraduate loans. You’ll be charged interest from the day you get the first payment until your loan is repaid in full or cancelled. Interest will be charged at the Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 3%. The interest rate is updated in September every year, using the RPI from March of that year.

Research Council Funding

There are seven research councils that offer financial support to postgraduate students. The majority of the awards made by these councils are to students undertaking research degrees.

Competition for research council funding is fierce, as the awards ƒmade provide cover for both fees and maintenance (though applicants from EU countries other than the UK may only be eligible to apply for assistance with fees). For more information about the research councils and the awards available, visit the website.

Keele Hardship Fund

The Keele Hardship Fund is a non-repayable discretionary fund that is provided by the University in order to assist students that are experiencing financial difficulty.


Some charities, trusts and foundations offer funds to students who are undertaking particular routes of study and research. A list of organisations offering funding can be found in The Grants Register, published annually by Palgrave MacMillan.


Some Research Institutes and Offices have studentship schemes, which they are able to offer to prospective students.  Some of these may be from Research Councils or from industry. 

Visit this link in order to find out what opportunities are available to support your studies.

Disability Allowances

UK or EU students with disabilities may be eligible to receive a Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA). Our Disability Services Co-ordinator Jane Higgins will be able to advise and assist you.

Learn more: Telephone: 01782 734105, website.

Other Means of Support

In addition to loans, awards and scholarships, there are a number of other options that can be explored in order to fund postgraduate studies.

There are a number of organisations which sponsor students to study for a research degree. Some will make allocations to the University (and where Keele has such studentships to award they will be listed on the website). Others will require applications to the sponsor, either directly or via the University.

The principal sources of such funding are listed here with a web link to enable you to access further information. Other useful web sites which give a guide to funding postgraduate study are as follows:

British Government Schemes for Overseas Students

Charities and Foundations

European Union Schemes

Science Without Borders