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Advice and Counselling Service

Financial options during your studies

There is very little financial help available for international students who are in the UK and who have started their studies.  If you are here with Student immigration permission, you are expected to have enough money to cover your fees and living costs as you would have had to show this when you applied for your immigration permission.  

If you have started your course and are now worried that you don’t have enough money to complete it, or your funding has been temporarily stopped due to circumstances beyond your control, please read the information on this page. If you then have further questions, please contact a Welfare Adviser. 
Please use our budget planning guidance and money-saving tips, and contact a Welfare Adviser if you need help with this.

Planning your budget

Planning your budget

It is essential to plan your funding in advance, for the whole of your course. It is also useful to plan a budget at any stage in your course. You need to work out a budget to compare your expected costs with your income, and check that you will have enough money to pay for your full tuition fees and living costs or if you have a shortfall (less income than costs). You can use our budget planning guidance and money-saving tips. Once you have identified your shortfall, check for possible funding options on this page.  

If, after planning your budget using the above resources, you find that you have enough money, you will need to try and keep your spending within your budget to avoid getting into financial difficulties. On our budgeting page we explain how to keep track of your spending.  Checking your budget regularly should also help you to spend your money more carefully, encourage you to cut costs where you can, and claim any discounts that you are entitled to. 

If you find that you do have a shortfall, you need to think realistically about whether there are any options for you to increase your income, and/or decrease your spending, so that you have enough money. Whether this is possible will depend on your individual circumstances such as how much of your course you have left to complete and the size of your shortfall. Look at the options below, as you might find that with a little help you will be able to complete your studies. 

If you find that you have a large shortfall that you cannot meet, you may need to consider interrupting your studies and returning to your home country to secure funding or to work and save enough money to enable you to resume your studies in the UK later. Read our guidance on Interrupting, which explains how interrupting will affect your tuition fees, the administrative procedures involved as well as the immigration implications and how Student immigration permission is affected.

Bursaries and scholarships

Bursaries and scholarships

Obtaining a scholarship once you have started your course in the UK is very unlikely, as these are oversubscribed and usually decided well before the start of the academic year.  For more information on scholarships visit the Queen Mary Scholarships and funding webpage. 

Financial assistance from the University

Financial assistance from the University

Financial Assistance Fund 

You can apply to the  Financial Assistance Fundat Queen Mary if you are encounter temporary and unexpected financial hardship during your course. As an international student, you would need to show that you had secured enough money for your studies before you started your course, but for unforeseen reasons beyond your control this funding is either no longer available or you have incurred unexpected expenses, meaning that you now have a temporary shortfall. The fund is only for help with living costs; it cannot help with tuition fees. Any money you are awarded is normally paid as a grant, so it does not need to be repaid. 

If you want to apply, it can be useful to discuss this with a Welfare Adviserso they can help you to explain your situation clearly in your application.   

There are specific closing dates for this fund. How to apply, eligibility and closing dates are specified on the Financial Assistance Fund page.  

Short term loans from the Students’ Union 

Queen Mary Students' Union (QMSU) can offer a short-term loan of up to £100 to help students who have run into unexpected financial need due to a cash flow problem. For example, if you are waiting for your funding to come in and you need to make a payment. These loans are interest free. You must be able to demonstrate a realistic repayment schedule. There is more information about how to apply online. 

Queen Mary Supermarket Voucher Scheme

You may be able to obtain a supermarket voucher from Queen Mary if your funds are low, you are in immediate financial difficulty and you unable to afford to buy food, toiletries or other essential items.  This can be used at a number of dedicated supermarket stores. Cash funds are not available.

To be considered you must be registered on a course at Queen Mary and have limited access to funds.  Each case is considered individually. A voucher is normally for £25 and can be issued once within an academic year.

If you would like to discuss your eligibility for a voucher contact the Welfare Advisers in the Advice and Counselling Service, vouchers are also available from the Student Enquiry Centre and the Bursaries, Grants and Scholarships Office.

Vouchers are not a long term solution so if you are experiencing financial difficulty you may want to arrange a confidential appointment with a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service, to discuss your circumstances and options further.

The Queen Mary Postgraduate Research Fund 

The Queen Mary Postgraduate Research Fund provides small scale funding to help pay for research students expenses such as travel, conference attendance, conference organisation and other research costs. You will need to show you have tried to find funding from other external sources before applying to the fund, even if those applications were unsuccessful. Applications are considered once a term. More details including how to apply, and important deadlines are available online. 

The Queen Mary Doctoral College Initiative Fund 

This small-scale fund is designed to support and promote creative and imaginative activities organised by postgraduate research students which will enhance their research experience, intellectual and/or professional development. The fund can consider contributing towards accommodation costs and subsidy costs and reasonable travel costs. The Doctoral College at Queen Mary anticipates supporting a wide range of activities or events ranging from, but not limited to, seminars, conferences, debates, and specialist training activities.  Visit the Doctoral College Initiative Fund page for detailed guidelines, deadlines, and the application form. 

The Queen Mary University of London Expeditions Fund 

The Expeditions Fund offers financial assistance to undergraduate or postgraduate students for expeditions they may wish to undertake during the summer vacation. Awards made are normally for a minimum of £250 and are granted on a case-by-case basis. An expedition can be any purposeful travel or outdoor pursuit, as an individual or in a group, in the UK or abroad. It can be connected to your academic or personal interests but should not be a compulsory part of your course, such as an elective. Visit the London Expeditions Fund page for the guidelines, deadlines, and the application form.

Learned societies

Learned Societies

You could explore funding from a Learned Society as some have a student grants or bursaries scheme.  The type of support available and who they will consider differs between each society.  A Learned Society is an organisation 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 Queen Mary website to see if there is one related to your academic discipline or profession, and if so, whether they have any funding opportunities that you could apply for. 

Part-time work

Part-time work

Check your immigration permission to see whether you are allowed to work in the UK and, if so, for how many hours a week. If you have Student immigration permission allowing you to work, you will have a strict weekly limit during term time for your course of either 10 or 20 hours a week. 

Our information about working explains how to find work, about Income Tax, National Insurance, the minimum wage, and the rules about working for international students. 

If you need help finding part time work, Queen Mary Careers and Enterprise can advise you about your options including help with CV writing, application forms, covering letters, interview skills and job searches. 

Trusts and charities

Funding from trusts and charities can only ever be a top-up to the core funding you already have, not a replacement for it. You will usually be expected to have explored all other means of financial support before applying. In general, you need to have exceptional circumstances for charitable funding to be a realistic option. For example, help may occasionally be available for final year students in severe financial hardship and for whom a small payment would enable them to complete their course. Some trusts and charities only provide help with specific costs, and many trusts do not help with tuition fees at all. Many trusts and charities have only restricted available funding, with some charities not making any awards to students at all. 

If you contact them directly by phone or email in advance of making any written application, most will be able to give you an idea of whether they are making any awards and the amount of money successful applicants can expect to get. If the amounts they offer are quite low, and if they offer very few awards each year, make sure you have considered all other available options before deciding whether to invest the time and effort needed to apply for this type of funding.  

Remember that funds are limited and therefore not all applications will be successful. In the next section we explain how to apply to trusts and charities. Here we list some trusts and charities you could consider: 

Trusts and charities to consider

The Mary Trevelyan Fund is administered by International Students House (ISH).  Queen Mary holds membership with ISH, so our non-UK national students can apply.  The fund can provide a grant or loan to students who find themselves in unexpected financial hardship during their studies.  An average award is between £400 to £600.  Before applying, we suggest that students in unexpected financial hardship first apply to the Queen Mary Financial Assistance Fund.  If this application is unsuccessful or an award is made that does not cover the full shortfall an application can be made to the Mary Trevelyan Fund.  Evidence of applications to / awards from Queen Mary will strengthen an application to the Mary Trevelyan Fund.  Visit International Students House for further information including how to apply. 

The Gilchrist Education Trust provides grants to students who have made proper provision to fund a degree, or higher education, course but find themselves facing unexpected financial difficulties which may prevent completion of it; also, from students who are required, as part of their course, to spend a short period studying abroad. Applicants must be full-time students at a British University. Grants are in the region of £500. Visit their website to read about more detailed information about their eligibility criteria and application deadlines. 

Funds for Women Graduates: FfWG provides that are designed to help women graduates, including students from overseas.  They provide Foundation Grants to women in the final year of a PhD or DPhil with their living expenses. They do not provide funds to cover fees. To be eligible you must be registered for study or research at an approved institution of higher education in Great Britain and doing the bulk of your study in Great Britain. Foundation Grants can be up to £6,000 and are awarded in July for the following academic year. 

FfWG also provide Emergency Grants of up to £2,500 to graduate women who face an unforeseen financial crisis whilst engaged in study or research at an approved institution of higher education in Great Britain. They are awarded in May and November. Applications will be considered from women studying in the UK of any age or nationality and any subject or field of study who have completed at least 6 months of their studies. Evidence that you have the funds to pay tuition fees is required. 

Visit the FfWG main site for more detailed information about their grants, eligibility criteria and application deadlines. 

Finding other trusts and charities to apply to

Turn2Us, a charitable service, has a database of trusts and charities accessible via a grant search which may provide financial assistance to students. Although there is an online search facility, it is usually better to ring their helpline on 0808 802 2000 and speak to an adviser. Lines are open Mon-Fri 9am to 8pm. This is because the adviser you speak to may suggest other organisations which would not appear using an online search and which could potentially help you based on your individual circumstances. 

Queen Mary University of London has subscribed to the Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding. The Alternative Guide is a website featuring a database of over 750 charities. 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 entire process, from identifying charities to making applications for funding. You can use the database whether you are looking for a large amount of funding, or a small amount for a specific project or conference attendance, whether you need help with tuition fees or for living costs. 

Current Queen Mary students and staff can access the information for free using the instructions on The Doctoral College PGR Funding Opportunities page (please note, you do not need to be a PGR to access the Guide).

If you are a prospective student, you can also access the guide for free, by following the instructions on the Doctoral College Prospective Students page (please note, you do not need to be a prospective PGR to access the Guide). 

When to apply

Many trustees meet only once or twice a year to assess applications, so it is important that you apply before the relevant deadlines. These should be stated on the trust or charity’s website. 

How to apply 

You will need to carefully research the criteria of trusts and charities and then make separate applications to each relevant trust or charity, explaining your situation and how you meet their specific criteria. You will usually be able to apply online. Make sure you explain your situation fully, which maximises your chances of success. If you are writing an explanation of your situation, you can contact a Welfare Adviser if you would like us to check this. If the trust or charity requires any evidence of your academic ability, you would need to request this from your personal adviser, tutor or student support officer in your academic school.  
Your application for funding should ideally explain:  

  • How you meet the eligibility criteria – for example if the trust only helps people in a certain age group, or who live in a particular area, state clearly at the beginning of your letter your age, or the area where you live. If it is not clear to the trustees that you are eligible to apply, they might reject your application. 
  • About your studies - Explain what course you are studying and where, which academic year you are in and when you expect to complete the course. Trusts and charities usually have very limited funds, and they want to be sure that any money they give you will enable you to complete your course. For this reason many trusts are more likely to help final year students, so if this is the case, emphasise this strongly. If you are not in your final year, try to explain how you plan to fund any future years of your course, so that the trustees can see that you will still be able to complete your course. 
  • It can also be helpful to explain why you are studying this course, for example, what career you hope to do after graduation. This helps to demonstrate how serious you are about the course and how important it is for you to complete it, which can make your application more compelling. 
  • Why you are in financial need - The trustees need to understand your financial situation and why you are asking for financial support. If you have a main source of funding but it is not quite enough to cover all of your costs, explain this. If your main source of funding has been temporarily disrupted or it has ended, explain this. If you have exceptional circumstances, explain this. Make it clear whether your financial difficulties are a one-off problem, affecting you only in the current academic year, or if they will continue throughout your course. 
  • How much money you need - You usually need to present a clear budget listing all of your income and essential expenditure, so that the trustees can see your shortfall (how much money you need). If you are applying part way through an academic year, you will just need to show how much money you need to complete the academic year. You can use the budgeting guidance on our website to help you. If you need further help with this, contact a Welfare Adviser. 
  • Where else you are applying - Explain how many other trusts and charities you are applying to, so that the trustees understand that you are not expecting them to give you enough money to cover your entire shortfall. If you have already been granted money from another trust or charity, or from the University, make this clear, and if possible include evidence, such as the award letter. 

Bursaries and scholarships

It is unlikely that any scholarship agency will grant you a scholarship once you have started your course in the UK, as these are oversubscribed and usually decided well before the start of the academic year.  For more information on scholarships visit the Queen Mary Scholarships and funding webpage. 

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