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Do teaching assistant positions not exist in the UK?

Notker the Stammerer

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Specifically, I'm referring to positions that pay your tuition as well as a stipend in exchange for teaching a few undergrad classes. They're common in US graduate programs, especially in the humanities. Your tuition is paid for, you get teaching experience, and you have enough money to live off of (barely).

I'm an American looking at PhD programs in the UK, and it seems like this option doesn't exist. The only funding opportunities I've seen are limited to studentships that might offer you 1500 pounds or so. That's great if you're paying the UK/EU rate of around 4000 pounds a year, but it's just a drop in the bucket if you're paying the international rate of 12000 pounds a year. Not to mention the costs of eating and living indoors, which are two things I've grown accustomed to.

Short of Fulbright, is there any way to pay for a UK grad program without being independently wealthy or taking out enormous student loans?

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I'm from Canada and just want to note that in other countries (e.g. Canada), a TAship pays you for the work you do as a TA, not your whole tuition and stipend. For example, about 1/3 of my total funding comes from TA (I get paid an hourly rate and I get a contract that stipulates 54 hours of work per semester), 1/3 from my supervisor in terms of a RAship, and 1/3 in external and internal awards. I have to pay for tuition out of this funding, but the department keeps that in mind to try to give us a decent stipend after we pay tuition. International students pay roughly double the tuition and our department has a limited number of "international tuition awards" so that International students only have to pay out-of-pocket the same amount of tuition as a domestic student.

Compared the US system, it's not really that much different except for the fact that our stipend explicitly comes from various sources and we do work specifically for that money. In the US, it seems like students are hired as "Graduate Assistants" and like a faculty member, you work on a salary basis -- you get $X in funding and a tuition waiver no matter how much work you end up doing. My offers from the US usually said something like 20hours/week of TA/RA though, which is a lot more TAing!

When I researched UK grad schools last fall, I saw that they have a similar system as Canada, except the "overseas" tuition is much higher (3 or 4 times!). However, some schools offer a limited number of studentships that will cover your fees, but they are limited. For example, the astrophysics group at UCL has this page: http://www.ucl.ac.uk...hd/studentships . Although this isn't for your field, note that the studentship mentioned is college-wide (but you have to be nominated by the Department), so if you are considering UCL, then your department should have some info about this too. I saw similar studentships at other major UK universities too.

In addition, I've found that there are some (but very few available to non UK/EU nationals) studentships at the college-level or national-level which pay your tuition and possibly a stipend. Here is a list of those available at UCL: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/scholarships/graduate/overs-res/index (for all graduate students). I would imagine these are super competitive but maybe a bit easier to get than a Fulbright. Just using UCL as an example, the UCL Overseas Research Scholarship pays for international fees/tuition plus a 12,000 pound / year stipend but only 40 are awarded annually for the entire school.

Edit: I meant to add that it also seems like you will know your funding situation before you have to accept/decline the school's offer. In fact, for UCL Astrophysics, they will only accept international students who are able to win some external funding (explicitly refusing self-funded students). But you might have to apply for the awards separately (although some awards might require the department to apply on your behalf).

By the way, this funding issue is a problem for International students in any country! :)

Edited by TakeruK
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Short of Fulbright, is there any way to pay for a UK grad program without being independently wealthy or taking out enormous student loans?

Unfortunately not really.. For UK/EU students there are research council scholarships which fund tuition and living costs. My old university would merely hire PhD students on an ad-hoc basis to take tutorials and discussion sessions.

You're going to need to keep an eye out for largely university based scholarships such as Oxford's Clarendon Fund.

Keep a look out on www.jobs.ac.uk which will sometimes include university funded scholarships open to all.

Even for UK students the outlook is pretty grim, a big reason behing personally looking to the US

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