SOAS University of London

Student Advice and Wellbeing

Hardship Funds

  • International Students
  • Childcare
  • Additional Study Support
  • Law Students

Access to Learning Fund

SOAS Access to Learning Fund

What is the Access to Learning Fund?

The Access to Learning Fund provides discretionary financial assistance for students who find themselves in unexpected financial hardship or who have to meet above average costs. Students who may be considering leaving higher education because of financial problems are particularly encouraged to apply. You can apply to the Fund at any point throughout the academic year, but early application is recommended as funds are limited and can run out. Any help you receive from the Fund is usually a grant and is non-repayable.

Who Can Apply?

The Access to Learning Fund is for Home undergraduate and postgraduate students enroled on full-time or part-time on-campus courses.

Tuition Fees

The Fund cannot help with paying tuition fees.  If you are a full time undergraduate student you can apply for help from Student Finance England (SFE) in the form of a tuition fee loan. You can also apply to SFE for a loan to help with tuition fees or living costs if you are a post graduate taught or research student.

Before you apply
  • Undergraduates must have taken out their full entitlement of Maintenance Loan before being eligible to apply
  • Postgraduates must have taken their full entitlement of the Postgraduate Master’s Loan or Doctoral Loan
  • Postgraduates must demonstrate that they have made realistic provision to fund their fees and living costs before applying
  • If you are a full time undergraduate you are expected to have a student account with interest-free overdraft facility - if you are experiencing difficulties in opening a student account please explain the issues in your application form
  • Any full-time student (not studying remotely in term 1) will also be expected to have the TfL 18+ Student Oyster Card
Priorities for Assistance

The Fund is there to help any eligible student who has a particular financial need but we cannot meet every application we receive and we cannot always meet all of the costs that you might apply for. SOAS gives priority to the following groups of students when deciding how to allocate the funding:

  • Students receiving the final year loan rate, who are in financial difficulty
  • Students with caring responsibilities
  • Students with children (especially lone parents)
  • Mature undergraduate students, especially those with existing financial commitments, including priority debts
  • Students from low income families
  • Students who are displaced people, refugees or asylum seekers
  • Estranged students and those with experience of care
  • Disabled students (especially where the DSA is unable to meet particular costs)
  •  Students who have entered higher education from Foyers or who are homeless

If you are struggling financially or facing hardship as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic you can apply to the fund. Please explain in the statement section of the form, how Covid is impacting your finances. Please also provide evidence to support your application.

How do I apply?

To apply for the SOAS Access to Learning Fund please complete the SOAS Hardship Fund Application. Please use the statement section of the online application form to explain your current financial situation and how this is impacting on your studies. Applications must be submitted using your SOAS email address.

Once you have completed and submitted the application form, you will be sent an automated email to your SOAS email address. Please reply to this with scans of supporting documents including bank statements for the past 3 months with money coming in or out over £100 explained, proof of rent, proof of income for the year such as student finance letter, payslips etc. If we need any further documents we will contact via your SOAS email address.

Note: we would not consider you to be in financial hardship if you are not accessing all the statutory funding available to you (see above).

You can normally apply to the Access to Learning Fund (ALF) once per academic year. A second application to the fund will only be considered in exceptional circumstances. Additional evidence will be required.

Please see our  SOAS Access to Learning Fund Guidance 2021/22 (pdf; 142kb)  for more information.

International Students

SOAS International Hardship Fund

International postgraduate and undergraduate students who encounter emergency unforeseen costs or unexpected financial hardship may be eligible to apply for a small grant usually up to £500 from the SOAS International Hardship Fund.

We also have a fund specifically for students from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh with the same criteria.

You will need to be able to demonstrate that you had made reasonable provision for living costs and tuition fees before starting your programme, and provide evidence of your current hardship.

Students from the following groups would be considered a priority for assistance

  • Final Year Undergraduate
  • From a developing country
  • PhD Student writing up
  • Masters student writing dissertation

Please complete the SOAS Hardship Fund Application


SOAS Childcare Fund

Any student who has childcare costs can apply to the Childcare Fund. The fund is not means tested, and provides a grant of up to £750 towards the cost of Ofsted registered childcare. To apply please complete the SOAS Hardship Fund Application below, providing supporting evidence which indicates your childcare costs and birth certificate(s) of your child/children. You do not need to provide any further supporting documentation unless you wish to apply for further support from the Access to Learning Fund.

The childcare fund is limited and distributed on a first come first served basis, so early application is advised.


I'm an international student can I apply? Yes, any student with childcare costs can apply once per academic year.

How long does it take to process my application? Up to 4 weeks.

What documents do I need to support the application? Receipts from a Ofsted registered childcare provider.

To apply please complete the SOAS Hardship Fund Application

Additional Study Support

Additional Study Support Fund

If you began your undergraduate programme at SOAS in 2012 or later, and after budgeting are unable to cover all your costs, you can apply for SOAS Additional Study Support Funds. These are awarded based on the following criteria:
  • You must be from a group under-represented at SOAS
  • You must be undertaking your first undergraduate degree (students who currently hold a degree or who are transferring from another Higher Education degree will not be eligible)
  • You must ordinarily be resident in England
  • Your household income must be less than £25,000 as assessed by the Student Finance England (SFE)
  • You must have applied for all available funding

SOAS has many diverse groups but would particularly like to support:

  • Students from low participation neighbourhoods
  • Students from lower socio-economic groups
  • Students with disabilities
  • Students from black and ethnic minority groups
  • Students from a school with an above regional average of students on free school meals
  • Students from a school where a low percentage of students achieve 5 A-C GCSEs
  • Please note that meeting these listed criteria alone will not guarantee this award as these are limited in number

To apply for Additional Study Support Funds please complete the SOAS Hardship Fund Application

Applications can take up to 4 weeks to process 

Law Students

Ballantyne Financial Assistance Fund for Law Students

Students registered for a programme in the School of Law who are experiencing financial need may apply to the Ballantyne Financial Assistance Fund for a grant. The Ballantyne Financial Assistance Fund supports two awards of £600 per academic year.

Applications will be assessed against the same eligibility criteria as the Access to Learning Fund. However, grants from the fund are to be made only to students registered on a School of Law undergraduate, postgraduate or research degree programme. No grant may exceed £600 and no student may receive more than £600 in any one academic year.

Applications can take up to 4 weeks to process. By making this application you will also be assessed for the Access to Learning and Additional Study Support Funds.

To apply please complete the SOAS Hardship Fund Application

The Ballantyne Financial Assistance Fund was set up in 2016 as a result of the generosity over many years of William Ballantyne, a long-standing friend of the SOAS School of Law. William Ballantyne taught Arab Comparative Commercial Law and Arbitration as a Visiting Professor at SOAS and is author of Commercial Law in the Arab Middle East: The Gulf States (Lloyd’s of London Press, 1986); Law and Development in Arabia (Graham & Trotman, 1980); A Register of Laws of the Arabian Gulf (Lloyd’s of London Press, 1985) and Essays and Addresses on Arab Law (2000). He continues to practice as a barrister specialising in Arab Laws.