Graduate Studentships

Among the many graduate students who have come through King's are the eminent sociologist Lord Anthony Giddens, chemist Sir Martyn Poliakoff, molecular biologist Dame Anne Glover, theoretical physicist Fay Dowker, cosmologist Carlos Frenk and composer Errollyn Wallen, the first black woman to have a composition performed at The Proms.

At any one time, King’s has 250 graduate students in the College. Increasingly, changes in fees and government funding sources mean that students must look to universities for financial support, and that the universities themselves must be able to offer this in order to attract the very best graduate students from both the UK and abroad. If we cannot, our potential candidates have no choice but to go to the places that can and will.

To offer the necessary funding extraordinary graduate student candidates deserve, and enable us to attract and retain more of the best students, King’s ambition is to create at least seven new graduate studentships across a range of subjects. Our ultimate aim is to build a fund of £6 million to endow these for students indefinitely.

This is a priority area for Cambridge, and expendable donations to support graduates currently attract matching funding from the University.

Innovation comes only from the assault on the unknown

- Sydney Brenner (KC 1958)

 


 

The Cost of Graduate Study

For Home and EU students, tuition fees for the MPhil have risen upwards of £11,000, with annual tuition fees for the PhD generally around £8,000. Overseas students can expect to pay significantly more for their courses: generally in the region of £23,760 for MPhil courses and between £22,200 and £28,000 for each year of the PhD, depending on its subject.

With maintenance costs factored in, the estimated average cost for a Home and EU graduate student to support themselves for a year's worth of study largely ranges from £23,000 to £26,000, whilst for overseas students this can be – for more expensive subjects such as Chemistry, Engineering and Biological Sciences - as much as £43,000.

UK students without the existing means to fund their studies and living costs cannot, as was once effectively the case, be guaranteed funding from any of the seven quasi-governmental Research Councils – the AHRC, ESRC, BBSRC, MRC, EPSRC, STFC and NERC.

The implication of this change in fees and funding is two-fold: firstly, that students must now look to universities and colleges for the financial support required to pursue their course of study, and secondly, the universities themselves must be able to offer this support in order to attract the very best graduate students from both the UK and abroad. If we cannot, our potential candidates have no choice but to go to the places that can and will.

MPhil Studentships

This lack of funding is particularly keenly felt by students applying for the one-year MPhil, for which Research Council funding is effectively non-existent. Although a Postgraduate Masters Loan of up to £10,000 has recently been introduced by the government, this is insufficient to cover even the basic cost of the tuition fee, let alone any additional costs of living. Aside from the obvious barrier of access that this lack of governmental provision creates for students without independent (usually familial) wealth, it also poses the prospective dilemma of an increase in salary tax on earnings above £25,000 from 9% (the rate for earners who have taken a loan out for their undergraduate studies), to 15%.

Whilst the loan might alleviate the immediate financial burden, it fails to offer a genuine solution to the economic hurdle that a Masters degree increasingly represents, whilst also disincentivising potential applicants through its punitive repayment plan.

The net result of this current situation is that in spite of the possibility of a governmental loan, students without existing means cannot afford to undertake an MPhil at Cambridge, unless they offset the cost of their accommodation, food and other living expenses by working alongside their degree. Clearly this is not a satisfactory resolution either for the student or the College.

In the 2017-18 academic year at King's, 42 students embarked on the one-year MPhil course, in subjects ranging from epidemiology to applied linguistics, and from classics to computer science. Of these 42, only 2 students were able to be fully funded by the College, one of whom was funded through a one-off donation for a single MPhil student. Whilst another seven students received partial awards – mostly covering tuition fees only - in effect we currently have the ability to offer only one fully-funded studentship to MPhil applicants on a regular, year-on-year basis.

I loved my first experience of studying here. There’s such a lot on offer both academically and socially, and I really wanted to return because the community here is wonderful... Without the scholarship I would never have been able to afford to come back to King’s.

- Emily Turner (KC 2012)

 


 

PhD Studentships

At any given time, around 200 students are enrolled at King's on three-year research degrees, with an approximate intake of around 50 new PhD students each year.

Although PhD funding from the UK Research Councils is more widespread than that available for MPhil applicants, it is still dauntingly limited and competitive. Doctoral candidates who are not fortunate enough to secure funding through Research Council grants face the prospect of trying to secure funding through universities, colleges and other private sources, often trying to juggle multiple sources of funding in order to make ends meet. Inevitably, the process can be time-consuming and frustrating, but is often the only way of making the financial demands of further study viable.

In other parts of the world, especially in the US, many academic departments are able to give full funding for the entire course for their doctoral students, thus attracting candidates from the UK and around the world. While King’s overseas graduate fees are competitive with equivalent colleges and universities, we often cannot match their level of funding.

In the 2017-18 academic year, of the 50 new PhD starters, nine received funding from King's, of whom seven were jointly funded with governmental agencies such as the AHRC and ESRC, or with the University via its Vice Chancellor's Awards for UK and EU doctoral students. Two students were fully funded (both tuition fees and maintenance) by endowed funds at King's, through the Loke Studentship in Pathology and through the Sperling Fund for international graduate students.

In addition to this, seventeen continuing students received funding from King's, out of around 150. Fifteen of these seventeen were jointly funded with the University or other agencies and Research Councils.

King’s opens the windows of opportunity for those students who have the determination and intellect to explore the world.

- Dr Mark Pigott (KC 2009)

 


 

Our Funding Aspirations

The College must be able to offer the necessary funding that our extraordinary candidates deserve. We want to recruit and support the world’s best minds and talents, enabling them to benefit from what we have to offer and us to benefit from their rich range of insights.

With a Masters degree being both an essential bridge to further study at PhD level, and an increasingly necessary qualification in a competitive job market, we believe that the economic barrier that currently impedes applicants without existing financial resources is one which needs addressing and dismantling as a matter of priority.

In order to go about this, we are seeking donations which will create fully-funded (tuition fees and maintenance) MPhil studentships, either via short-term funds which will support a limited number of students, or as an endowed fund which will support a student every year, in perpetuity.

MPhil students from the UK and EU on an Arts and Humanities degree course can be supported by £26,000, whilst their overseas counterparts can be supported by £39,000. Home students within the Science Faculties can be supported by £27,000, and equivalent students from overseas by £43,000. On the basis of the fee statuses of our current intake of students, the average cost of supporting an MPhil student at King's is £31,333.

We are also hoping to fully fund a series of PhD studentships at King's, again with the ultimate aim of endowing these studentships to allow students to benefit from them indefinitely.

PhD students from the UK and EU on a doctoral course can generally be supported by £22,000 per year, whilst their overseas counterparts can be supported by £42,000 per annum. On the basis of the fee statuses of our current intake of students, the average cost of supporting a PhD student at King's is £28,667.

We aspire to ensure that all of our students can access the support that allows them to fully immerse themselves in College life.
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