Self-funding a PhD in the UK - International student (Non-EU)



I desperately need advice on self funding a PhD as an international student.

I currently hold unconditional offers from three universities but didn’t get to receive the scholarships I applied for. I don’t want to defer my offers so I’m looking for ways to self fund.

I have some money saved up that can just about cover the first year’s tuition fee and living costs. I’m thinking of using that money first while looking for further funding opportunities or part-time jobs.

So my questions are:

1. Are there many funding opportunities available once you start your phd? My first choice uni does allow first year phd students to also apply for certain scholarships but I am not sure how realistic it is for me to get that.

2. I understand most unis offer some tutoring or other on campus jobs to phd students. Are these opportunities also available to first year phd students? Also, how much do unis usually pay for these jobs?

3. If I were to take on other part-time jobs outside of campus, how plausible is it to work (potentially more than one job) and study full-time?

Thank you!


Hi. From my experience, the answers are as follows:
1. No. once you start, it is your problem to finish. Funding is limited and in particular to international students.
2. Tutoring jobs are available for all research students from first year. They pay around 10-15 pounds per hours. But you cannot count on them. If you even get an opportunity, you might have 5 hours per week and only during term time. Overall it will give you almost nothing after all.
3. Finding a part time job is not easy as you think. Everyone is searching for this. You might end up with occasional few hours every month if you are lucky.
Conclusion: An offer without a funding is not an offer. It is completely useless. This is how research in the UK is run. If you are self funded or funded by an external government, you are welcome, otherwise you have to be very good and very lucky to get funding (especially international students). Instead of wasting the money you saved for an "impossible mission", apply for taught Master or if you like research for Master by research.


I was an international PhD student (on a full scholarship) in the UK and I agree with eng77. If you are not funded during your PhD, it will be a miserable experience. You may try to look for a PhD in a country (e.g. Germany) where tuition fees are not as expensive as in the UK. Otherwise, keep applying for scholarships until you get one, it will look good on your CV to secure funding.


I wouldn't count on getting funding once you start.
As others said Teaching is usually term time.

Other question to ask- Have you funds to pay for consumables that might be associated with the project? Whos going to pay to attend conferences/networking events? Can you still get a visa if your self funding- as they may look to see that you have the full funds (tuition, living expenses etc.) for all years of the PhD prior to starting.

Personally, I'd keep applying for funding or funded post- Like PhDhere said it no fund if your funding it! Also, you might spend more time working to fund the PhD rather than doing the PhD, meaning it takes longer than you think.


Thanks so much for your advice!

I understand that self-funding is not a plausible option.

In that case, does anyone have experiences with getting scholarship from year 2? The uni I want to go to allows first year phd students to apply for some of the scholarships. If I start my first year and then apply for that, would I have a better chance of getting the funding?


I started my PhD (4 years) on a small stipend (Ireland based) and applied for funding at the end of my first year- was unsuccessful. It all depends on what topical each year. My friend was successful and then had two years to finish a 4 year PhD. She later regretted the funding as she went overtime by a year and had to pay fees and equally had no stipend.
Given the current climate, I would not self fund a PhD. You don't know if that grant will be around next year. You could start to commit a year and then get nothing and left with the decision to continue as self-funded or leave. If it was me I would start looking for a funded position (project already decided) or spend the year working and spend my free time reading and working on a strong grant application for next year.


I think you may have a lower chance if you apply for funding once you have started and are a registered student. The University may just assume once you have started self-funding you will continue. I really would not even consider doing this without funding, especially not in the UK. I considered self-funding once. Most academics I spoke to about this were really against it and I fully understand why now. I did get a funded place but have still had to source other grants to go to conferences. Course fees and living expenses are not the only costs you will have.


If an international student is thinking about doing a STEM PhD, I will definitely tell them not to do so. When you're doing a STEM PhD, you're working for your supervisor, and you're supposed to be paid by your supervisor.
But it seems that you're doing politics. In politics, it seems that PhD students are working for themselves. So it may be worth it if you go self-funded. You'd better consult PhD students in your field before you make a decision.

In the UK, once you start to do a PhD, you can hardly get any funding. If you need funding, you need to secure a funding before you start your PhD.