The Access to Learning Fund

The Government gives every university funds each year to assist students who need extra financial support because they have higher than expected costs (such as single parents).  There are two types of awards:

Standard: This help may be given to meet course related costs such as childcare, books/equipment, travel or for general living costs.

Non-Standard: Help may be available to help in a crisis situation such as the repair of essential household equipment or for travel home for serious family illness or bereavement.

Most awards from the Fund are in the form of grants, although some short term loans may be available to meet temporary hardship such as delayed Student Maintenance Loan or severe cash-flow problems.

Eligibility for the Access to Learning Fund is restricted to home fee status undergraduate and postgraduate students who have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least three years prior to the start of their course. 

Students must be registered with the University for the current academic year 2013/14 in order to receive any award granted. Applications may be considered from students, particularly those in the target groups, before the start of the academic year, but any award will be on a provisional basis subject to registration being completed and full confirmation of your financial circumstances, where necessary. If you will be starting a course in 2013/14 you may therefore apply early to see what help may be available to you during the year, to help you budget for your studies.  

Students must be studying for the equivalent of at least 50% of a full time course, that is, a minimum of 60 credits within an academic year, except in the case of disabled students whose disability prevents them from studying for at least 50% of a full-time course. In these circumstances the student must be studying at least 30 credits (25% of a full-time course) to qualify. 

Students eligible to apply for a Student Maintenance Loan must have taken their full loan entitlement prior to assistance from the Access to Learning Fund being considered.  

All applications are means tested against defined guidance from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (DBIS) and not all applications will be successful. 

Target students

The Access to Learning Fund can be of particular help to the following groups of students: 

  • mature students
  • students with dependent children
  • single parents
  • students entering higher education from care
  • students from low income backgrounds
  • students with disabilities
  • final year undergraduate students. 

Assistance from the Access to Learning Fund cannot be granted to pay tuition fees, library fines or any other fines imposed by the University.

If you are a Postgraduate student, you are expected to show that you can meet your tuition fees and that you have made reasonable provision to support yourself through your course before we will consider your application to the Access to Learning Fund. Reasonable provision excluding tuition fees would be equivalent to £170.00 per week for a single student and £137.00 per week for a student with dependants or who is unable to work due to disability.

Applying for Assistance

We strongly advise that before completing the online application for assistance from the Access to Learning Fund, you contact the Students' Guild Advice Unit for assistance in completing the onlne application form.

Applications for 2013/14

General applications for 2013/14 have now closed, however if you are a Postgraduate student who wants to apply for support over the summer vacation please contact the Student Funding Team through SID online, please ensure that you include 'Access to Learning Fund' in the subject field, and a application form will be sent to you. 


Applications for 2014/15

From 2014/15 the Access to Learning Fund is being replaced by the University's Hardship and Retention Fund which will continue to assist students who need extra financial support. Applications to the fund will be available for completion from the 1st September 2014, more details about the fund and how to apply will be available shortly.

Contact us

If you can’t find the information you need please contact the Student Information Desk on 0300 555 0444 or +44 (0) 1392 724724 or