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What funding is available in Scotland for part-time undergraduates (or equivalent) studying in the UK?

By David Malcolm

Monday 18 March 2013 Higher education

If you want study part-time for your first undergraduate or equivalent course in the UK, the funding that’s available from the Scottish Government is different to what’s available for full-time students. Undergraduate or equivalent courses include honours degrees, Higher National Diploma (HND) and also professional development qualifications, eg Professional Development Award (PDA). The funding that’s available depends on your income and your personal circumstances.

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Can I get higher education funding in Scotland for a part-time course?

If you normally live in Scotland you may be eligible for funding from the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) – a Scottish Government agency. To get the funding, you and your course must be eligible for it. For more details, see Can I get higher education funding in the UK?

The eligibility rules for part-time study are the same as for full-time, except that for part-time funding there are specific rules about the course you’re taking. You must be studying for a higher education course, Professional Development Award (PDA) or Continuing Professional Development (CPD) at levels 7 to 10 of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF), and complete between 40 and 90 SCQF credits per year (this changes to between 30 and 119 SCQF credits per year from the start of the 2013/2014 academic year).

You can’t get the funding summarised here to study part-time for a postgraduate qualification, except for a Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE). However, if you started your part-time postgraduate course in the 2011/2012 academic year you can continue to receive the Part-time Fee Grant for your final year. For more information about postgraduate funding, see What funding is available for postgraduates studying in the UK?

The funding is available for your first undergraduate or equivalent course or PGDE only – if you already have a UK qualification at the same or a higher level, you’re not eligible.

Where can I study?

Part-time funding from SAAS is available if you’re undertaking a course at a Scottish university or college only.

If you want to study in England, Wales, Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland, you can get funding for full-time study, but not part-time. See What funding is available in Scotland for full-time undergraduates (or equivalent) studying in the UK?

If you want to take your entire course at a university or college outside the UK, you can’t get the funding outlined here. See I want to study outside the UK – what higher education funding can I get?

What government support can I get?

You can get a fee grant from SAAS each year to help pay your tuition fees. The grant is paid directly to your university or college, and you don’t need to pay it back. The amount you get depends on your household income (your parents’ or partner’s income plus yours):

  • From the start of the 2013/2014 academic year your income must be £25,000 or less, and you can get up to £500 – or more depending on the number of SCQF credits you study. This affects new and continuing students.
  • Up to the start of the 2013/2014 academic year the maximum grant you can get is £500, and your income must be £22,000 a year or less.

Here’s SAAS’s information on student finance for part-time students, and details of changes for the 2013/2014 academic year.

You can still get funding from SAAS if you’ve taken time out from your studies or changed your course. For more information, see:

What other government support is available?

As well as the standard package of support from SAAS outlined above, you can get a grant from Skills Development Scotland to take your part-time course. You can get an ILA200 (Individual Learning Account) grant of up to £200 a year if your individual income is £22,000 a year or less. To find out more, including the courses for which you can get funding and how to apply, see SDS Individual Learning Accounts.

You can also get extra funding depending on your circumstances and the kind of course you’re taking. Find out more here:

How do I apply for government funding?

You apply for funding through SAAS. For more information, see How do I apply for higher education funding in Scotland?

Where else can I get funding?

As well as government funding, you may also be able to get funding from your academic institution, charities or other sources. To find out more, see Can I get higher education funding from my university or college? and other sources of funding.

If you work, your employer might sponsor you to take a part-time course, especially if the qualification will help advance you in your role. Ask your employer whether this is an option, or whether they’ll help by giving you study leave or flexible working arrangements. They might pay all or part of the fees.

If you’re not eligible for any funding, find out whether your university or college will let you pay the tuition fees in instalments to help you spread the cost over the duration of your course. If they do, make sure the repayment scheme is interest-free, so you don’t end up paying more than you need to.

Related topics

What higher education funding is available in Scotland?

I’ve already got a UK honours degree – can I get funding for more higher education?

I’ve undertaken a higher education course before – can I get funding again?

This information was updated in March 2013. NUS provides this information in good faith and has taken care to make sure it’s accurate. However, student finance issues can be complicated, and rules change frequently. You should contact the advice centre in your students' union, college or university for support if you’re uncertain or need more help.