External Funding for MA, MRes and MPhil Students

Students coming to the RCA find funding from many different sources. Some are lucky enough to win scholarships and sponsorship, whilst some have managed to save money from working. It is impossible to list all the potential funding sources; however the following information could be useful. 

Government Postgraduate Loan Scheme

£10,280 study loans available for MA, MPhil and MRes programmes at the RCA.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England have announced details of a new loan scheme for students starting Master's programmes from 2016. These loans differ from existing postgraduate loans and repayments will be made post-study as a proportion of income, rather than being fixed amounts. Click here for additional information. 

Update – It has been confirmed that EU students starting programmes in 2018 will be eligible for the Postgraduate Loan for the duration of their course, subject to the usual personal eligibility rules.

Key points

  • Loans of up to £10,280 to help with the costs of the Master's programme. Please note this is currently the maximum you can borrow for the entire duration of your Master's programme, including Architecture
  • Money goes directly to students to use as they need, in six termly instalments over the two-year programme
  • Administered through the Student Loan Company
  • Non means-tested, so not linked to household income or earnings 
  • Repayments 6 per cent of earnings over £21,000 once study is complete


  • Home and EU students aged under 60 are eligible for the loan. Home students must have been resident in England prior to the start of their programme for purposes other than education. EU students must have been resident in the EU for three years prior to the start of their program; please note there is no requirement for EU students to have been living in the UK prior to starting their course.
  • Rules mean that Scottish, Welsh, Islands, and Northern Irish students may not qualify unless they have been living in England for reasons other than study.
  • If students have already completed a Master's qualification, or a higher award, they will not qualify.
  • All the RCA’s MA, MPhil, MRes programmes will be eligible, full time or part time (where part time is available).
  • Loans are available to students beginning their programme of study from September 2016 onwards.

Applications for the Postgraduate Loan are now open and you can find further information and the application form here.

PLEASE NOTE: The Postgraduate Loan will be paid to you in three instalments per year in October, January and April. Payments will go directly to you to assist you with the costs of postgraduate study and are not just intended to be used for tuition fees. The College payment requirements mean that you will need to pay at least half of your tuition fee up front in order to register and then registration will trigger the first instalment of the loan. The remainder of your tuition fees will be due in January, and therefore you will need to budget to pay your tuition fees primarily via other means than the loan.

15-month MA Programmes: Postgraduate Loan

Our new 15-month MA programmes do qualify for the Postgraduate Loan, providing that individual criteria are met as outlined above. However, Department for Education rules mean that any MA programmes over 12 months in length is automatically treated as if it is two years in duration. For our 15-month MA programmes it means that the fifth and sixth instalment of the loan will arrive after the programme has finished, in January and April. There is nothing the College can do about this ruling at the current time, so students will need to factor this into their financial plan.

Professional and Career Development Loans


The UK Governments supports a loan scheme for educational and professional development purposes, called Professional and Career Development Loans. This is only available to students from the UK and occasionally to EU students if they have been in the UK for three years or more. 

How does the scheme work?

Only one bank, the Co-op now offer this product. Students can apply for a loan of up to £10,000 and can stipulate how much is for fees (which will go directly to the College), and how much is for living costs (which will go directly to the student). The Government pays the interest on the loans whilst the student is on the course. Repayments of the loans begin almost as soon as the course finishes and the repayments are fixed and not linked to income, meaning that you will need to think very carefully about whether the option is right for you. 

Who is eligible?

The discretion to lend is up to the bank in question, although the Government issues guidelines. Residency is a major qualifying factor, as is credit history. Loans are commonly refused if an applicant has a poor credit history or if they have very little credit history at all. Ordinarily courses need to be two years or less to qualify, however you should check directly with the lender for exceptions. If you are not a UK or EU students you will not qualify for this award.  

How much can I get and how do the payments work?

You can borrow between £500 to £10,000, split as you wish between fees and living costs. The payments are usually spread over each year of your course, so for example if you receive £6,000 in total for your fees, it will likely be £3,000 per year. 

How can I apply?

Click here for further information and contact the National Careers Service on the details provided in the link.

Other Loans

There are commercial providers of loans to assist with study. One of those providers, Future Finance, offers discounted rates for RCA students. The link below is not a recommendation of Future Finance and you should do your own research into their suitability for you, however if applications are made via this link then the discounted rate will apply if your application is sucessful.

Charitable Funding

It is often worth looking around for other funding opportunities. In the UK there are many hundreds of charitable organisations and educational trusts that can offer financial assistance to students. This form of funding requires hard work and some luck, but many of our current students benefit from assistance from external organisations. 

Where to Look?

There is no exhaustive list but we recommend looking at the Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding. This is an external resource that the RCA subscribe to and makes available for our students. You can log in with your RCA email or request the pin number from Student Support ( 

The following PDF has also been put together to provide a starting point for students looking for sources of funding: UK, EU and Overseas Funding Bodies (PDF).

Other useful places to look for relevant charities are listed below:

  • Turn 2 Us
  • Local Council
  • Parish Council
  • Graduates and current student – ask around. 
  • The Grants Register (available in most large libraries and the RCA library in the reference section)

Who can apply?

This depends on the rules of the charity in question. Some charities only accept applications from people with links to a particular location, a town, city, county or country. Others will only accept applications from people with links to a certain profession, or religion, or background. It is worth noting that whilst some UK-based charities will accept applications from international students, this is more unusual.

How much will I receive?

Many charities are small and have modest awards to give out; a few hundred pounds is most common, but larger awards up to full-fee level are not unheard of. As you do need a certain amount of luck in finding suitable organisations, it is possible you will not have any luck at all. 

How does the process work?

The Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding has a very good overview section for you to look at, so that is what we recommend that you do. In the UK many charities exist and they usually are small and local, or tied to a particular assessment criteria. The first stage is to draw up a shortlist of charities whose criteria you may match. You then contact them to see if they will accept an application from you, and go from there. Generally speaking the charities only have modest funds, so they will be looking for a worthy candidate who will be 'pushed across the line' by their grant or loan.  

External Funding for International Students

Whilst the following information is not exhaustive, we hope that the list gives you some starting points in order to begin your own search for funding. We always appreciate feedback and information from other sources that you know of which could be useful to other students, so please let us know if you think something is missing.

It is always a good idea to contact the British Council in your country as they often have lists of funding opportunities, or run scholarship programmes themselves. You can get more information at the British Council website. You can also find details of the Student Support team and the International Student Adviser.

US and Canadian Loans

If you are from the USA you should note that the College is designated as an eligible institution for American students to apply for a Guaranteed Student Loan under the new Direct Loan Program. The RCA’s School Code is 00942300 or G09423. For more information about the loans available to you, please visit the RCA's US Loans pages, the US Education Student Aid website and the Direct Loan website, or contact

Student painting
Student Work, 2015
Photographer: Richard Haughton