Postgraduate Doctoral Loan

A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan is available for students normally residing in England to help meet the cost of doctoral study in the UK.

For the 2019/20 academic year, the UK Government is offering a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan of up to £25,700 per student. The loan, which is not means tested, will be divided equally across each year of your course. The money will be paid directly to you, so you can choose to use it towards your course fees or living costs.

Key information

  • A loan of up to £25,700 will be made available to students applying to doctoral research courses from the 2019-20 academic year onwards. 

  • The loan will be available to students across all discipline subject areas for full-time, part-time and distance learning doctoral programmes, so long as you do not have existing qualifications at Doctoral level or above.

  • The loan will be paid directly to you, into a UK bank account.

  • The loan is available to UK nationals who normally live in England. A different Postgraduate Doctoral Loan is available if you normally live in Wales. Moving somewhere to study does not count as normally living there.

  • EU nationals may also be eligible for the loan, even if they do not normally live in England. Further details are given in the eligibility section, below.  

Important note: course length is counted from initial registration up to the expected final thesis submission (for a standard full-time doctoral course this means three years of supervised study plus one year of writing up period, equalling four years in total). 

Eligibility

  • The loans are available to students under the age of 60 on the first day of the first academic year of their programme. The academic year is a period of 12 months starting on:

    • 1 September, if your course starts between 1 August and 31 December

    • 1 January, if your course starts between 1 January and 31 March

    • 1 April, if your course starts between 1 April and 30 June

    • 1 July, if your course starts between 1 July and 31 July

  • The loan is available to UK nationals who have been living in England for three years by the first day of their course (and who have not moved to England just to study).

  • The loan is also available to EU students (nationality and residency rules for EU nationals apply).

  • Distance learning applicants must reside in England on the first day of the first academic year of their course and remain living within the UK for the whole of the course.

  • Students who already hold a Doctoral qualification (or an equivalent or higher-level qualification) will not be eligible for the loan.  

  • Postgraduate Doctoral Loans are not available to students wanting to ‘top-up’ a lower level qualification to a Doctoral degree. The course must be a full, standalone Doctoral course. 

  • The course must last between three to eight academic years and be delivered by a UK university in the UK (you are still eligible for the loan if more than one university delivers your course and one is oversees, as long as the UK university is the lead university and you spend at least 50% of your study time in the UK). Please note that applicants to our Dubai campus will not be eligible for the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan.

  • Students are not eligible for a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan if they are in receipt of any other funding from any of the following:

    • Research Council funding (for example, studentships, stipends, scholarships and tuition fee support)

    • Social work bursary

    • NHS bursary

  • You can apply for non-repayable Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA)  in addition to the Doctoral Loan to cover some of the extra costs you have because of a mental health problem, long-term illness or any other disability. You do not have to apply for a Doctoral Loan to be eligible for DSA . Postgraduate students can apply for a single allowance DSA payment of up to £20,000 (2019/20) to support them in their course. 

For more information, or to seek clarification as to eligible programmes, please check the Government Postgraduate Doctoral Loan website.

How to apply

You apply directly to Student Finance England (SFE) for the Doctoral Loan. You can find out more via the Postgraduate Doctoral Loans website.

  • We recommend that you apply for a place on your course at the University of Birmingham prior to applying for a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan.

  • You will need to know your course name, start date and the duration of your course in order to apply. Please use our programme list to select the correct subject/course name on the Doctoral Loan application form. 

  • The deadline to apply is nine months after the first day of the last year of your course.

Please note: our standard full-time doctoral programmes are normally three years in duration. However, many programmes will be listed on the SFE website with a course length of four years. This is because the course length is defined as the maximum period of registration for that particular course, which includes the three years of full-time supervised study plus one thesis awaited year.  

Payment

  • There is no minimum loan amount that can be requested. The total requested can be altered up to one month before the end of the course. 

  • The money will be paid directly to you. It will be your responsibility to pay your tuition fees. Information on paying your tuition fees can be found here.

  • Payments will be made in three instalments of 33%, 33% and 34% each academic year. You will receive the first payment after your course start date, once we have confirmed that you have registered. After your application has been approved by the Student Loans Company (SLC) you will be sent a letter by them with your payment dates, or you can check them in your online account.

  • As with undergraduate support, students will need to provide both valid UK bank details and a National Insurance Number (NINO) in their own name.

Repayment

  • Interest will accrue at a rate of RPI +3%.

  • Repayments will begin to be due either the first April after you leave your course, or April four years after the course started (whichever is sooner). 

  • The repayment threshold will be £21,000.

  • The repayment amount will be 6% of income above the relevant threshold.

  • Repayments will be made concurrently with any other student loan repayments due. If you are repaying both an undergraduate and a postgraduate loan you will have a 15% (UG 9% and PG 6%) total deduction taken from your salary above the repayment threshold. If you have taken out both a Postgraduate Masters Loan and a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan then these will be combined into one Postgraduate Loan repayment of 6%, so the total will not be more than 15% even if you have all three (UG, Masters and Doctoral) loans. 

  • Any outstanding balance will be written off after the 30th anniversary the repayments became due.

Change of circumstances

  • Repeat years of study will not be funded unless you have exceptional circumstances as determined by the SLC.

  • Further funding is not available where the course is not completed in the specified length.

  • Students can suspend and resume their course by taking a Leave of Absence. No payments are made during the suspension period unless the Leave of Absence is on medical grounds.

For more information about the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan, visit the UK Government website or read the Student Finance England information on the UCAS website.

Alternative funding

For alternative sources of funding for research study for which you may be eligible, please visit our postgraduate researcher fees and funding webpage.

Information for EU students

Following results of the EU Referendum in the UK, there will be no immediate change to your immigration status and associated fee status or to your access to student loans as a result of the vote.  If you will be starting your studies in 2019 or 2020, you will continue to be charged the UK fee rate applicable at the time (may be subject to annual increases for inflation) for the duration of your course.  You will also continue to have access to the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan from the UK Government for the duration of your course.