Tracking down funding sources

Wherever you choose to study, there are ways of finding help with funding your course. Here are four tips.

Hero image for Tracking down funding sources

Help from your university

Many universities offer scholarships
and bursaries to postgraduate
students: check the universities’
websites for details. Some may be
attached to a particular course or given
to students undergoing financial
hardship. Several Irish institutions offer
postgraduate funding for research
degrees, on a competitive basis. You
should also check individual
departments, which may, for example,
have funding awarded to research
teams (particularly in science and
Universities or individual
departments may also advertise
separately (in the press or on
departmental notice boards) funding
opportunities that have become
available closer to the start of the
academic year. Applications for
university funding are often made at
the same time as for academic places
on a specific funding application form.
The North-South Postgraduate
Scholarship Scheme offers funding to
postgraduates undertaking a
recognised masters or first year of a
PhD programme, taught or research, in
the other Irish jurisdiction. The
scholarships are offered by Universities
Ireland; Dublin Institute of Technology,
the Open University and the Electricity
Supply Board (ESB) are partners in the
scheme. The 2013/14 scholarships
were worth €15,000 (approx £12,000)
each and in 2012 there were five
available: three in the fields of
engineering and energy, the remaining
two in art, business, science and social
science. The closing date for
applications is in May. More details are available

Help from the Government

State support for postgraduate
students is shrinking, and students
starting a postgraduate course from
2012 onwards will not be entitled to
maintenance grants. There will still be
some help available with fees: some
postgraduates will be eligible to have
their tuition fees paid (up to a
maximum €6,270), while others may
be eligible for a €2,000 fee contribution
grant. See here for
There is no mandatory support for
postgraduate study in Northern Ireland
but you may be able to apply for help
through your college or university
under the Access to Learning Fund and
the Additional Fee Support Scheme.
Currently the approximate rate of
support for taught programmes is
The Department for Employment
and Learning makes two kinds of
postgraduate research studentships: DEL
studentships for research (MPhil, DPhil,
PhD) and CAST awards (see page 130).
For students in Northern Ireland, the
Disabled Students Allowance (DSA)
could pay for extra course costs
incurred as a direct result of a disability
– for advice, contact SKILL
You can find an overview of and
guidance on available funding in
Northern Ireland on the Department
for Employment and Learning website
Information is also
available from the Northern Ireland
Education and Library Boards and
Student Finance NI here

Help from your employer

In technological, scientific and,
sometimes, business areas, funding
may occasionally be available for a
research topic of interest to employers.
This funding is normally applied for at
department level and through
research teams rather than by
Some students may make personal
arrangements to have part-time study
fees paid for by their employers. If
you’re in work and thinking about a
postgraduate course related to your
current career, consider asking your
employer whether they would
contribute to the costs – highlighting
the benefits to them. Some of the
more expensive taught postgraduate
programmes, such as MBAs and
professional courses, are more likely to
be undertaken with employer support.

Other help

You may need to approach financial
institutions for additional support –
some may have designated study
loans. You may consider working part
time to fund your studies – research
students, in particular, may be offered
tutorial work, exam marking etc. But
do be aware that it is less easy to
absorb part-time work into the
demands of a taught postgraduate
course than it may have been on
undergraduate courses.


  • Recognise that funding is limited and is highly competitive to obtain.
  • Begin your search for funding at the same time as you initiate your search for a place, and make sure to follow up on all awards as they are announced.
  • All the rules about applying for a place come into play when applying for funding – maybe more so. It is most important to pay attention to your 'personal statement' and questions relating to work and future plans.
  • Go to your careers adviser and tutors for advice when filling out your application for funding.
  • Keep an eye on deadlines for funding applications: some fall as early as 1 March.
Cherry picked for you

Cherry picked for you

and delivered directly to your feed.