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The new PhD loan – what we know so far

7 November 2017

3 mins

The UK Government has recently announced that it will introduce a new doctoral loan for PhD students beginning their studies in the 2018-19 academic year.

Though the specifics have not yet been finalised, this is what we know so far:

Who is eligible?

UK nationals aged 59 or under beginning their PhD in the 2018-19 academic year. You must not already hold qualifications at PhD level to be eligible for the loan.

Loans cannot be combined with Research Council funding, NHS funding or other direct Government funding, but can be combined with university funding or funding from other sources.

What about Government loans from other countries?

Wales has also suggested it will introduce a similar PhD loan, possibly creating up to 150 fully-funded PhD studentships for its own students in the 2018-19 academic year. Northern Ireland also has plans for its own PhD loan, but they haven’t set a start date as yet. The UK Government is considering making EU students eligible for the loan, though this will be determined by the Brexit negotiations.

Will my course be eligible?

Any qualification at level 8 of the Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK-Degree Awarding Bodies should be eligible for a loan, though an official comprehensive list will likely be made available prior to the loan being launched.

The PhD loan will be applicable to all subjects, disciplines, research areas or topics.

Does the loan cover part-time study?

The plans for the loan do not currently distinguish between full-time and part-time courses, therefore it is expected that part-time students will be eligible for the loan.

Where can I study?

Eligible students looking to study at a university in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland will be able to apply for a PhD loan. You will not be eligible for the loan if you study outside of the UK, even if you are an English national.

How much will the loan cover?

The doctoral loan will be up to £25,000. You can borrow any amount up to the limit of £25,000 regardless of your financial background.

Is the loan means tested?

No, you can apply for any amount up to the full amount (£25,000) regardless of your financial background, similar to the Masters loan.

Do I have to use the loan to pay the tuition fees?

The loan will come directly to you, not the university, so you can use it to cover tuition fees or living costs, again similar to the Masters loan.

How will I repay the loan?

You will repay 6% of income over £21,000 per year once you have completed the course. This will be combined with Masters loan debt, so you will only make one repayment every month. Regardless of how many student loans you have, you should only ever repay up to 15% of your annual income over the £21,000 threshold.

Will they charge interest on the loan?

Yes, the PhD will have interested added to it, similar to other student loans. The amount of interest you will pay has not yet been confirmed, though it is likely that the amount will be similar to the master’s loan, which is the retail price index (RPI) +3%.

When can I apply?

Applications for the PhD loan are expected to open in Spring/Summer 2018 ahead of the September 2018 start date for most universities. Applications will be made via Student Finance England.


There will be a talk at our Open Evening on Thursday 16 November 2017 regarding postgraduate funding for postgraduate students, both a masters and research level; book to attend today.

You can also find more information on FindAPhD.com.

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