Money advice for postgraduates
Financial advice and support for postgraduate students.
Knowing that your finances are under control means you can relax, concentrate on your studies and enjoy your time here at Birmingham.
If you’re from the UK, a postgraduate loan and perhaps a part-time job will support you during your postgraduate studies. If you’re from overseas, the additional challenge of visa restrictions on working in the UK can make managing finances more complex. The following information will provide help and guidance in planning your finances for the duration of your studies and living in the city of Birmingham.
Budgeting advice and financial assistance
The University Funding, Graduation & Awards Office can give you financial advice and support throughout your studies. We also offer a range of scholarships, grants and bursaries, both for Masters and PhD students.
For more information about the cost of coming to the University and your funding options, take a look at the following pages:
One-off initial costs
University-owned halls pre-payment £550 Private shared house deposit Usually a month's rent in advance Bedding pack (single/double)* £30-40 Insurance** £80 Police Registration*** £34 TV Licence For up-to-date cost information, please visit the TV Licensing website
*Bedding packs are available to purchase from your Accommodation site office
**Basic possessions insurance is included in all University-owned accommodation
***For international students, this might be a condition of your visa
Essential living costs
The following are a number of essential weekly costs to be factored into your budget to cover basic living needs (based over a 50 week academic session):
Essential Living Costs
Self Catered Halls Private House Rent £125 £100 Gas & Electric Included £11 Water Included £3 Food £50 £50 Toiletries £5 £5 Laundry £5 £5 Weekly Total £185 £174 Annual Total £9,250 £8,700
The following costs are variable and the weekly amount may depend on your available budget and individual circumstances:
Variable Living Costs
Average cost per week Course costs £18 Travel £25 Social/Memberships £50 Clothing £10 Internet* £5 Mobile Phone £2 Weekly Total £110 Annual Total £5,500
*Wi-fi connection is included in the cost of University-owned accommodation
Additional course costs
Some degree programmes may require you to cover the cost of additional activities (for example field trips).
In addition to any costs associated with your course or programme of study, there are other costs that you are likely to incur as a student at the University of Birmingham. This is not an exhaustive list however, it is useful for you to be aware of the types of things you may have to pay for.
- Printing – in the majority of cases, course work and assessments can be submitted online. Some students may be required to submit work in a printed format.
- Books – a wide range of resources, including most core texts, are available in the library. However, you may be required to or prefer to buy your own copy of key text books
- PCs and laptops – PCs and laptops are available on campus in IT clusters. However, you may find it useful to have your own PC, laptop or tablet which you can use around campus and in University halls of residences
- Graduation – there are costs associated with hiring your gown for your degree ceremony
The University's Guild of Students operates Jobs, Skills and Volunteering which promotes employment opportunities on offer at the University and at reputable local employers who understand that your working hours must remain flexible in order to fit in with the requirements of your course.
Worklink is based at the Guild of Students and operates alongside the Jobs, Skills and Volunteering to match students to on-campus casual work at the University.
International students who wish to know if they can work in the UK under their student visa can get advice and guidance from the UKCISA working during your studies in the UK website.
Graduate teaching assistantships and other University work
Research students are eligible to apply for teaching assistantships, which enable you to undertake a certain amount of teaching on undergraduate programmes. They provide a welcome additional source of income while also broadening your academic experience. You can get details of the assistantships when you speak to the named contact about your research.
You can also supplement your income by acting as a demonstrator, or by engaging in tutorial or marking work. Again, your programme tutor or research supervisor can provide further details on these opportunities.
One of the most important things that you’ll need to learn as a student is how to manage your money. Knowing that your finances are under control means that you can relax, concentrate on your studies and fully enjoy your time here at Birmingham.
It is crucial to remember that most students receive their funding in fairly large instalments, normally at the start of every term. So once a payment has been received, it usually has to last quite a while (typically until the start of the following term) before another payment comes through. This is why budgeting is so important.
First you need to establish the total income that is available to you. This might be a combination of your student loan, any scholarships that you receive, contributions from family members or sponsors and wages from part-time work. You can learn more about all of these sources of income through our funding pages.
Once you know how much you have coming in, you will need to work out how much money you are likely to have left over after you've covered the essentials like rent, utilities and food. This will give you an idea of how much you can put aside for socialising and life's little luxuries. We have produced a budget planner to help you do this (PDF - 1,413KB). For an accessible, non-PDF version please use the Word document of the front section of the planner (Word - 70KB), in conjunction with our calculations spreadsheet (Excel - 21KB).
Our top tips are:
- Establish the total income available to you from loans, scholarships, donations, savings, employment, side hustles, etc.
- Work out your living costs, starting with the basics (bills and rent) but also remember to be honest about your spending habits! Do you get a lot of takeaways, is going out important to you, do you spend a lot on nice things? Ate these behaviours ones you can change or do you need to budget for them?
- If there’s a deficit, can you meet this through part-time work without having a negative impact on your studies? Do you need to work more over the holidays and save up? Can you look for other means of support, such as scholarships?
- Make a realistic budget and track how well you actually stick to it so you can adjust as necessary.
There are lots of free budgeting apps that may be able to help, including:
- mint - a comprehensive budget that categorises your spending showing where cutting back might be possible
- goodbudget - includes a 'share budgets' feature - useful if you're in a house share
- Money Lover - brilliant for those who like charts, statistics and graphs
When calculating your budget, don't forget about one-off costs such as special occasions, birthday presents, family outings... and trips to the dentist! The Which Student Guide gives a list of ten things to include. Save the Student provide some handy tips for saving money, together with a broad range of useful online tools and calculators to help you make the most of your finances.
Don't forget to look out for discounts and savings, especially those aimed at students. Use your TOTUM (NUS student card) wherever possible to get student discounts and freebies.
Each year, we recruit a team of enthusiastic postgraduate students to join our Postgraduate Ambassador Scheme. We regularly employ our ambassadors to support postgraduate recruitment activity and encourage prospective students to consider further study.
The Postgraduate Ambassador Scheme is flexible and works around your timetable. You only work if you have no prior study or social commitments and there is no minimum hourly requirement. We recruit ambassadors near the start of each academic year, and the role is advertised on Worklink.