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Your guide to student finance: from BA, Master’s and PhD loans and bursaries to internships and part-time jobs

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8 min read
AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
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While studying a degree offers unforgettable and valuable life experiences and is a great way to secure your dream role in the food and drink sector, there’s no doubt that it costs a lot of money. Luckily, there is plenty of financial support available to students, ranging from the student loan to studentships and bursaries. We also take a look at how you can find a part-time job or paid internship that could help you on your future career path.

Student loans

No matter what level you are studying at, different types of support are on hand to help you finance your degree.

If you’re studying for an undergraduate degree – a Bachelors – you can apply for an undergraduate student loan, which includes support for tuition and maintenance costs. Full-time students can get up to £9,250 per academic year to cover tuition fees. There are different levels of maintenance loans depending on your living situation and whereabouts in the country you live during your studies. If you live with your parents, you can borrow up to £8,171 (for 2022 to 2023 academic year), and living away from your parents outside of London you can get up to £9,706. If you don’t live with your parents and you’re in London, you can borrow up to £12,667, while if you’re 60 or over on the first day of the academic year of your course you can get up to £4,106.

Bear in mind that you cannot access either of these student loans if you are studying a degree apprenticeship.

Tuition and maintenance loans are also available for students of HND and HNC courses.

Once you begin your studies, it’s important to remember you need to reapply for student finance for each year of your course. It’s also good to keep your details up to date. If there’s a change in your circumstances (for instance, you move back in with your parents whilst studying) this can impact how much you may get in future loan payments.

You can apply for support with tuition fees if you’re an EU student and can also apply for help with your living costs if you have lived in the UK for over three years before starting your degree, or if you have settled status. Full time EU students can get up to £9,250 per academic year depending on eligibility.

You can use the Gov.uk student finance calculator to estimate how much you might be eligible for in student loans. The result is calculated using your annual household income – how much your parents earn – plus your own income.

If you’re studying for a postgraduate degree – a Master’s or PhD – you can apply for a postgraduate Master’s or Doctorate loan. Your employer may also be able to support you if you are thinking of studying to progress in your current role.

There are three different levels of support you can apply for with the Postgraduate Master’s Loan. These loans are to help you fund your tuition and living costs. The current options available are:

  • £11,836 for a course which begins on or after 1 August 2022
  • 11,570 for a course starting between 1 August 2021 of the previous year and 31 July 2022
  • £11,222 for a course beginning between 1 August 2020 and 31 July 2021

There are also three options available for the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan. You can apply for the following:

  • £27,892 for a course starting on or after August 2022
  • £27,263 for a course which begins between 1 August 2021 and 31 July 2022
  • £26,445 for a course that starts between 1 August 2020 and 31 July 2021

The dates above are taken from the latest information published for the 2022 to 2023 academic year by Gov.uk. The dates may change over the next few years so keep track of the current guidelines for student loans on their website.

These loans are available to students who live in England outside of term time. If you normally live in either Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland when you’re not at university, there are different postgraduate loans available to you.

Scholarships, studentships and bursary support

The lucky thing about being a food student is that you tend to have access to some of the best scholarships, studentships and support.

At the University of Leeds, the School of Food Science and Nutrition offers a limited number of scholarship of up to £9000 or £12,000 depending on how long the course is. It is part of the Leeds means-tested scholarship scheme and around £3,000 is typically awarded for each year of study.

Cooking schools such as Le Cordon Bleu also offer scholarship support to students. Their Future Talents competition is open to 18+ year olds from around the world who want to follow a career in the hospitality sector. First place winners of the competition can study the Grand Diplôme, while Second and Third place can study the Certificate in Basic Cuisine and Certificate in Basic Pâtisserie.

There are also several scholarships available for students from ethnic minority backgrounds in the UK. One of these includes the Amos Bursary, which is open to students of African and Caribbean descent in Year 12. They must be in a state school or college in Greater London and in the process of applying to university. The Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Scholarship is available to full-time students from an ethnic minority. Students can be starting a full-time course at any level of higher education. Some food-related fields of study which are accepted include engineering, technology, and science. Any other industry encouraging black and mixed-race female leadership in the UK is also eligible. The Open University also offers scholarships for students from ethnic minorities. They can be studying any undergraduate course.

Master’s scholarships are also on offer in the UK. The University of Reading Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences offers seven scholarships of £4,000 each year for international students and £2,000 for two students from the UK or Republic of Ireland.

Similar support is also available for PhD students. UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) provides UK universities with grants which allows them to fund some postgraduate students’ living costs and tuition. Through these studentships students can access a minimum of £4,596 a year to cover tuition fees and a minimum of £16,062 a year to cover living costs which comes in regular instalments. The awards are adjusted each year according to the level of inflation. Doctoral students also tend to be entitled to additional funding to cover the cost of attending conferences, fieldwork, research visits overseas, or placements with a non-academic partner.

The University of Sussex UK Food Systems Centre for Doctoral Training offers a scholarship for its four-year course, which is aimed at students with an interest in ‘multi-disciplinary research and interdisciplinary food systems perspectives.’

Towards the end of 2021, the Food Consortium Collaborative Training Partnership (CTP) announced it would deliver 28 new PhD studentships to researchers tackling societal, environmental, and economic issues in the British food and drinks industry. The CTP is a collaboration between the Haydn Green Institute at Nottingham University, Campden Bri, as well as a range of influential food manufacturers including Mondelez, Nestlé, PepsiCo and the Samworth Brothers.

Part-time jobs at university

Many students take on part time jobs at university to help them fund their studies. Your student union often has plenty of student jobs available at its bars or cafés. If you can, you should try to find a job that relates to what you study and helps you gain some experience in the field you want to eventually work in.

A great part-time job for a nutrition student for example might be working as a receptionist for a nutritionist. If you’re studying for a diploma in the culinary arts or hospitality management, working in a café kitchen making sandwiches, cakes and other dishes could help you gain some essential skills for future jobs in the culinary arts sector.

While it may take a bit more effort, contacting a food or drinks brand you admire for work experience or shadowing (where you can spend time with an employee and learn more about what a job entails) could also help you learn more about the careers available to you while you study.

Paid internships in the food and drink sector

The benefit of internships in the food and drinks industry is that many of them are paid. They don’t tend to all have the same length and are open to students who are at different stages of their degree. Some may be targeted at graduates who are just finishing their course and may require you to show your predicted degree classification on your application. Others are perfect for students during the summer break in between academic years from June to September.

There are also placements specially designed for people who undertake a year in industry as part of their degree in their penultimate year. Many ‘year in industry’ placements are 12 months long, with the idea of you being able to get the most out of your internship experience. Some students can take on six months placements at two companies to explore two different areas of the sector they’re interested in, so they can get a better idea of what area they may want to work in after graduation.

Internships are offered by a variety of companies in the sector for students in Food Science, Engineering, and Nutrition, as well as more creative fields like Marketing. These organisations could include The Association for Nutrition, Avara Foods, Campden BRI, Mondelez, Charlie Bigham’s, or Gousto.

Many hotels often offer internships for Hospitality and Culinary Arts students such as the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Shangri-La Hotels, and the Marriott International hotels.

Discover everything you need to know about doing a graduate scheme for a food company in this Careers Conversations episode:

What it’s like going through the Mondelez graduate scheme


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