Applying For A UK Postgraduate Student Loan As An International Student?
Who can apply for a student loan in the UK?
The UK is one of the world’s most popular destinations for international and postgraduate study, with prestigious universities and a wide range of master’s courses. The answer to this question is quite simple as it depends on your citizenship and status.
However, international fees in the UK are higher than the ‘home’ students. There are no real student loans for international students unless you’re from the EU/EEA or have pre-settled status or indefinite leave to remain – which could be eligible for a UK Government Masters loan. If you are unsure if you are eligible, you may contact UKCISA (UK Council for International Students Affairs) for more information.
Despite this, there is a wide range of scholarships available that are specifically designed for international students. Unfortunately, we cannot list every postgraduate funding scheme opportunity available, but we have some examples below.
To apply for a UK student loan
To apply for a full-student finance loan from the UK Government, the following must apply
- Must be a UK national, Irish Citizen or have ‘settled or indefinite leave to remain’ status
- You must have lived in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for 3 years before the course start date
- You must apply to the nation you are living in. You cannot apply to the country in the university is located.
You might also be eligible if you’re a UK national (or a family member of a UK national) and you’ve been living in the UK, the EU, Gibraltar, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein for the past 3 years. To be eligible, you must have either:
- returned to the UK on or after 1 January 2018 and by 31 December 2020 after living in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein
- been living in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein on 31 December 2020
If you’re an EU national or a family member of an EU national
You may be eligible if you’re an EU national or a family member of an EU national, and all the following apply:
- you have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme (no restrictions on how long you can stay)
- you’ve normally lived in the UK, the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland or overseas territories for the past 3 years (this is also known as being ‘ordinarily resident)
- you’ll be studying at a university or college in England
You could also be eligible if you’re:
- the child of a Swiss national and you and your parent have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
- a migrant worker from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein with pre-settled status, or a family member of a migrant worker where both have settled or pre-settled status
- a resident of Gibraltar who is a UK or EU national, or a family member
- an EU national and have pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme and lived in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for the past 3 years
Student loan finance post-Brexit
The criteria below apply if you’re studying in England. Other the other 3 nations, you will have to check with their student bodies.
EU students from outside the UK
For courses started after 1 August 2021, if you’re an EU national living outside of the UK, you can no longer be able to apply for a master’s loan from the UK. You may also be charged the same fees as other international students.
However, there are universities which are offering support such as EU scholarships or fees to help keep fees in line with previous years. You will need to research these on the university website.
EU Settlement Scheme
If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen living in the UK and you registered with the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) by 30 June 2021, then you’ll continue to be eligible for UK home fee status.
Depending on how long you’ve lived in the UK (including the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man), you could be granted one of two statuses:
- Settled status is awarded if you’ve already lived in the UK for five continuous years
- Pre-settled status is awarded for anything less than five years; once you reach five years of residence in the UK you can apply for settled status
Family members joining someone with a ‘settled’ status
If you’re a close family member of someone in the UK who has settled status, you may be eligible to join them.
The definition of ‘close family’ means spouse, civil partner or ‘direct descendent’ such as a child or grandchild. In some cases, it may also depend on when that ‘relationship’ began – and it must still be ongoing when you start your course.
Irish citizens living in the UK or Ireland
Irish citizens based in the UK or Ireland are covered by the Common Travel Area agreement.
To qualify for home fee status and tuition fee support, you must have lived in the UK or Ireland for three years before the start of your course. You could also get maintenance support if you’ve lived in the UK for three years before the start of your course.
Irish citizens living in the EEA, Switzerland or EU overseas territories
Irish citizens who live in the EEA or Switzerland may still be eligible for home fee status and tuition fee loans in England for courses starting before 1 January 2028, if they meet the following criteria:
- Living in the EEA or Switzerland on 31 December 2020 (or had moved back to the UK immediately after living in the EEA or Switzerland), and
- Living in the EEA, Switzerland, the UK or Gibraltar for at least the last three years, and
- Living continuously in those areas between 31 December 2020 and the start of their course
Also, Irish citizens in EU overseas territories (such as the Canary Islands, Madeira, and Greenland) will be eligible for home fee status in England until 1 January 2028. They’ll need to have lived in the UK, EEA, Switzerland or overseas territories in the three years before the start of their course.
UK Government Loan
You can apply for a postgraduate scholarship from the UK government to cover tuition fees or the cost of living while you study in the UK. However, this scholarship does not include those from any EU nation.
You may be eligible for a one-year taught Chevening Scholarship, but you will need to check if your country is eligible.
In addition, you must meet the following criteria;
- Have an undergraduate degree
- Have 2 years of eligible work experience
If you’re from a developing Commonwealth country, you can apply for a master’s, PhD or split-site PhD.
If you’re from a developed Commonwealth country, you can only apply for a PhD or a split-site PhD.
You can check the eligibility here.
If you’re from the USA
You can apply for a Marshall Scholarship to do a master’s or a PhD if all the following apply:
- you graduated from a 4-year undergraduate course in the USA in the last 3 years
- you got a GPA of 3.7 or more in your degree
- you haven’t studied for a UK degree before
Check when you can apply for this scholarship.
The GREAT Scholarship is a joint initiative between the UK Government and the British Council offering students from 14 countries to have the opportunity to have £10,000 to study for a master’s in the UK. Those countries are:
Other types of scholarships
Below are some examples of scholarships awarded to students in their country. There may be more, but we’ve listed a few examples below.