Hi all, funding your MSc and living as a student in London can be tricky. To make this job a little easier we wrote this blog, from our own experiences and research.
Funding – home students
Many different bursaries/grants are available to postgraduate students in order to help fund either tuition fees or living costs. However, the places for these are competitive and have stringent eligibility criteria. So, although they are very useful since this is not borrowed money, it is not an easily accessible option for all.
You can apply for a student loan of up to £10,609 to fund your study or living costs, which works in a similar way to undergraduate student loans if you are eligible. Whilst being eligible for this loan probably won’t be a problem, having a loan of any kind is a considerable responsibility and commitment, which should be seriously thought about beforehand. However, you don’t have to pay the loan back until you are working and earning the required amount of money.
The options above may not cover all of the costs that come with living and studying in London, therefore self-funding is a necessity for many students (including myself). This can be through a variety of means, like borrowing money from family members or getting a part-time job. Borrowing money is not a viable option for many students, so many people choose to get part-time jobs alongside their MSc. This is easier when doing a part-time MSc, but is still possible with full-time study, although it will require a lot of commitment and a job that will not greatly interfere with your degree. Moreover, the student must be able to maintain a healthy study-work-life balance. There are many jobs that are available through King’s, such as the Student Ambassador Scheme and becoming an exam invigilator, these allow you to choose your own hours and are easily manageable as a student.
Funding – International students
How I fund my Msc
I think of my funding as a puzzle, money from different sources coming together to cover my tuition and living expenses. One piece is a loan from the Canadian government, I’d encourage you to look into funding from your home country that’s available to students going abroad. My family has also kindly contributed another piece to the puzzle. In the year and a half before moving to London, I built up my personal savings by living at home while working full time. Finally, I currently work part-time about 15-20 hours per week. Please note that if you’re studying on a visa there may be a maximum number of hours you can work, so I suggest looking into this if you’re considering a part-time job.
King’s College London offers scholarships that are available to international students. The King’s IoPPN Dean’s Scholarship is available to all students regardless of fee status, that are starting a full-time Masters at the IoPPN in 2018. The King’s International Scholarship (KIS) is open only to international students studying any Masters Programme at King’s. Those are the more general scholarships but there are others that have specific requirements. The Postgraduate Funding Database is a great resource, you enter details like your country of domicile, department, type of study etc. and, it will generate a list of funding available to you. I’d also recommend looking into The Alternative Guide to Funding, a resource for funding usually from charities that are available to all students.
Other Ways to Earn Money
I work twice a week at a medical recruitment company in the compliance department, they are flexible with my schedule and even let me work more hours between semesters. I found the job on King’s Career Connect, an online careers portal. It allows students, graduates, staff and employers to engage with services including a vacancy board. You will have access to Career Connect once you arrive at King’s. As a Subject Student Ambassador for the IoPPN I’m paid to write this blog, and run the Facebook Q&A. There are also other positions available as part of the Student Ambassador Scheme such as Campus tour guide and International Ambassador. You can find more jobs through the King’s College London Student Union (KCLSU) that are offered throughout the academic year.
In this section we’ll share some tips and tricks that help us save money:
Aisha: The NUS card and UNIdays are a great way to get student discounts for various restaurants, shops and activities. It never hurts to ask if an organization has a student rate, sometimes they do but it’s not well advertised!
Aisha: For transport, the 18+ student oyster card offers 30% off travel cards and the 16-25 railcard will save you ⅓ on off-peak travel. My oyster is loaded with the monthly zone 1 & 2 travelcard, along with the 16-25 railcard for when I visit my family out in zone 4! If you live close to campus walking and cycling are also wallet friendly options.
Shabani: Always keep in mind however that housing becomes much cheaper when living further away from Central London, if you are attending classes less than 3 days a week, seriously consider living further out since this can save a lot of money.
Aisha: I often bring a packed lunch to Uni and there are microwaves at the IoPPN if you enjoy a hot meal like me! I also try to shop for groceries at The Co-Op as they offer 10% discount with an NUS card.
Shabani: Avoid buying tea and coffee from big chains, since they are often very overpriced, it is cheaper to buy hot drinks from the IoPPN (there is a further discount if you bring your own reusable cup). Or use the kettle (accessible to everyone at the IoPPN) and water dispensers for hot water and bring your own tea bags and coffee. This may not be for everyone but I carry around a small travel kettle and my own tea and coffee so that I can drink as much as I like when spending long hours in the library, for very little money!
Shabani: There are always studies that are recruiting participants many of which need healthy volunteers as controls. You not only get paid for very little work (usually just answering questionnaires) but are also giving back to the science community. I especially enjoy being a research volunteer because of all the interesting people you meet and discussions you can have. It also provides an opportunity for learning more about how research is conducted (especially useful if you want to pursue a career in research).
The way to fund your MSc will be different for everyone depending on their individual circumstances, and a blending of all of the above will ensure the best quality of living during your studies. We hope this blog gave you a good insight into the different options available to help fund your Masters at the IoPPN.
Bye for now!