Financial hardship

Last modified: 03 May 2016

UKCISA is not a funding organisation.  We do not give grants or scholarships.

This information is aimed at international students, who are not European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss nationals or their family members, who are already on courses in the UK and who find themselves facing financial problems.

The British Council has information about a wide range of scholarships and financial support you can apply for before you come to study in the UK. The Scottish Government website lists scholarships for study in Scotland. The Study in Wales website has information about scholarships for study in the UK, including Wales.

If you applied to come to the UK as a student, you might have had to show that you could pay the tuition fees for one year of your course and meet your living costs for a maximum of nine months. If your course is longer than this, you should have considered how you were going to cover your costs for the extra years, even if you did not have to prove this to the Home Office.

Sometimes, however, you can have unexpected financial problems after you have arrived in the UK. For example, a parent might have business problems in the home country, and may not be able to continue sponsoring your studies in the UK or the value or your currency might suddenly go down. This can mean that, through no fault of your own, you find yourself without enough money to pay your tuition fees and living costs. You will need help to find enough money to continue to meet the UK immigration rules and to complete your course.

If you find yourself in financial difficulties during your course, the help that you can get will depend very much on:

  • the cause of your financial problem
  • how much money you need
  • the length of time you will need help
  • what the money is needed for

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to find new sponsorship or other financial help once you are in the UK.

If the problem will be long term, or if a very large amount of money is needed (for example, to pay university tuition fees), realistically, there is not much that can be done to help. You might have to consider returning home to look for new funding before you can return to UK to finish your studies. Many institutions allow students to defer for a year and return to their home country to work for a year or find new sponsorship.

However, please note that taking a year out from your studies to work in the UK is not allowed under the immigration rules.

What can you do?

Last modified: 16 September 2015

If you are worrying about money problems, this can have a very negative effect on your studies. You should tell your institution that you are having difficulties. The first step is to explain your problem to your International Student Adviser, academic tutor, Welfare Officer or Student Union (whichever is available in your institution). They may be able to suggest ways of dealing with the problem and give you helpful information and advice.

It is important that you speak to an experienced adviser as early as possible, and especially before you try to obtain financial help yourself, as their advice could help you avoid wasting time trying unrealistic sources and from endangering your immigration status as a student.

What can an adviser do?

Advisers do not have large amounts of money available to help students pay their tuition fees or rent. There may be an institutional Hardship Fund or Access to Learning Fund, but these are not available in all institutions, and the amount of money students can receive is usually very low and limited to one payment per student.

If the financial hardship has been avoidable, for example, if you started the course knowing that you did not have enough money, or that the funds from home would not last, then there is probably nothing an adviser or anyone else can do. You might have to consider the possibility of returning home.

If, however, something unexpected has happened, particularly in the last few months of a course, then the adviser can discuss your situation with you and help you choose the best alternative out of a limited range of options.