For most of us going into postgraduate studies, it seems mind-boggling that we can actually get paid to be students.
But it's true.
One way comes in the form of postgraduate scholarships .
If you're thinking of applying for a Masters or PhD (or even if you've already secured a place), read on to discover more about the world of paid education.
A scholarship is sometimes referred to as a studentship - nice and confusing. They usually mean the same thing but the latter may come with some teaching requirements.
Scholarships and studentships differ from bursaries as they are awarded on the merit of academic achievement.
A scholarship can come in many forms. It will generally cover your fees at a minimum. And with the increase in student fees on the horizon, this is no small fry. It can also contribute towards, or completely cover, your living costs. But be aware this extra money will generally be a set amount so you'll have to learn to live within your means.
Two great things about scholarhips are...
They're tax free and you usually don't have to pay them back
The exception to the latter point may be when you're sponsored by a firm that expects you to work for them for a set period of time after your studies.
There are many different ways to get a scholarship, but the first port of call should be your prospective university. If you want to apply for government funding then you'll have to do this through your place of study.
There are seven research councils set up to cover different areas of study and even though you only deal with your university it's always a good idea to browse the relevant research council's website for information on things like eligibility and criteria for awarding funds.
These bodies all offer very healthy sums - but competition is fierce
So don't put all your eggs in one basket and keep looking for other funding options available.
Your university will probably have its own sources of funding too. These tend to be specific to your field of study as the cash comes from donations. Again, there's going to be competition but..
He who dares wins
Just remember that it's important to get all the information as soon as possible. Deadlines vary, as does the application process, and this is an area where attention to detail can really pay off.
If you're already working then you could find out if your employer will sponsor you to go into postgrad study as a form of employment-related training. Or look for a job at a company that's known to offer these kinds of schemes.
Other places to find scholarships are through local institutions and charities that may have access to funds. The best thing to do is call round and ask - you never know what might turn up.
So if you're interest in any of the above - and to be honest, why wouldn't you be? - then get on it now. Call prospective university postgrad offices, get online and do a scholarship search, browse some of the links below, speak to your boss, check the classifieds, phone your local place of worship or charitable trust and see what you come up with.
It's there for the taking!
--- Useful Links: Research Council's Home Page
Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council
Medical Research Council
Natural Environment Research Council
Science & Technology Facilities Council
--- Image Credits: Photo Jonny (Flickr)
Robin Berkelmans (Behance Network)
BBC Andercismo (Flickr)