Many uni applicants do have financial concerns, from increasing tuition costs to uncertain living expenses. But there are many Oxford funding opportunities, and lots of help available, so that anyone can afford an Oxford degree (and a social life).
Oxford funding sources 1: Oxford bursaries and scholarships
Oxford funding example: the Moritz-Heyman Scholarship is automatically offered to applicants with a household income of £16,000 or less – it offers a living cost grant, reduced fees, and financial support for finding work experience
Students from low income families are either automatically assessed for further financial help from Oxford or can apply to be assessed for some kind of funding support.
This could come in the form of:
- a loan,
- a grant which will be used for a specific project
- a bursary or scholarship
Bursaries and scholarships are essentially the same thing – a certain amount of money given to you per year of study, which does not need to be repaid.
These can be specific to students applying for a particular subject, or from a particular location. Some aim to reward students who have achieved well in academic reports or contributed in a positive way to the university.
Oxford funding example: to receive a Hill Foundation Scholarship, you must be an undergraduate applicant, from Russia, who already has a Russian undergraduate degree, who plans to return to Russia after graduating in the UK, and who has a sufficiently impressive academic history – not all scholarships are so specific, but with so many on offer, perhaps you are the perfect candidate for one of them!
Oxford funding sources 2: general sources of uni funding
Every student can get government funding in the form of a tuition loan and an assessed maintenance loan. These are for funding the costs of accommodation, food, social activities and other costs.
There is plenty of advice about this on the student finance website, UCAS, and university websites.
Oxford funding sources 3: paid work
Oxford students are not allowed to have part time jobs whilst studying during term time, as the time spent working could cause your academic work to suffer.
However, there are many chances to work during the long Oxford vacations – 6 weeks at Christmas and Easter, and then 3 months during summer.
During the holidays I have found work as a sales adviser, a bar team member, festival food stall staff, and a clinical assistant at a medical imaging company.
Others ways to earn:
- Interview shepherding – working for your college to help run the interviews in December
- Access and outreach programs – running college tours, or working for UNIQ (Oxford access and immersion for state school students)
- Taking part in student research – being subjected to ‘experimental psychology’ might sound scary, but just filling in a questionnaire on the computer can earn you £10!
- Entering essay competitions for cash prizes
- Internships and work placements may be paid
- I’ve even known students to use their photography skills to earn as a professional photographer at events!
Tip 1: Budget well
It may be tempting when your loan arrives to spend it all on fast food, club nights and cinema trips. However you will have a much better term if you effectively budget for the necessary costs and special spending that you will have to do.
At some colleges, such as New College Oxford, you pay for your accommodation and evening meals at the start of each term, and therefore you know how much money you will have overall.
What you may budget for
- Going out – you can budget for fun as well as necessities, so think about what sports and societies you can join via uni/your college, as well as how to spend your spare time in Oxford more widely.
- Revision materials
- Fun events- Balls, Holidays
- Trains to visit friends and family
- Crew dates- £15 dinners at local restaurants where you are allowed to bring your own drink and have a fun evening with friends
- Birthday presents
- Emergency laptop repairs
- Saving money for the vacation
For me it was handy to keep a spreadsheet or google doc of what I was spending and how much money I had left each week, to keep track of my spending and stop myself buying too many new outfits from ZARA*.
*Success in avoiding ZARA shopping sprees not guaranteed
Another tip is to keep a penny jar, to which you add all coins less than £2, so that by the end of term you will have some loose change for an end of term dinner with friends, a birthday present, or coffee and cake to reward all of your hard work.
Tip 2: Make use of travel and study grants
The university and colleges often have generous grants, which they give out to applicants who have a proposed plan with which the funding will be used.
For examples there may be grants given to students who are going to visit China for a teaching placement or study grants for people looking to undertake research in the vacation.
These grants are great opportunities to be ambitious in your goals – whatever you want to do, the funding can allow it to happen.
Tip 3: Identify the perks of Oxford
Terms are 8 weeks long (plus a few days for moving in before term), so overall the accommodation costs can be less than other universities because the period of time you are actually there is less.
Moreover, college dinners are often subsidised and a good price, for a huge dinner with lots of healthy veg! Much better than beans on toast!
College also organises lots of free pizzas, snacks, club nights which are much cheaper than general ones, as well as helping with costs to join sporting clubs.
Funding your degree should hopefully never be a barrier to getting a great education. The university is more than happy to help out, so just ask your college’s finance department and look for opportunities to save or earn that bit more.