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Please note that the Fund has been inundated with applications in Round 2 of the Lent term and you may be informed of the outcome of your application later than expected. Thank you for your patience.

Postgraduate students who are financially in need due to COVID-19 may apply to this fund for assistance.

During this time of high demand, the Fund will run two rounds per term and one in the long vacation to reach as many students as possible.  Please see the dates at the bottom of this page.

Prior to starting their course, all postgraduate students are expected to have arranged sufficient funding for the duration of their studies. It is possible, however, that students will encounter unforeseen financial difficulties during their time here at Cambridge.

In such circumstances you should consult your College Tutor as soon as possible. They will talk with you about your financial situation and provide advice about appropriate sources of financial assistance. In genuine cases of unforeseeable hardship they may seek help from other funding bodies. Please note, however, that if you run out of money early in your course it is unlikely that the University will be able to provide sufficient funding for you to complete your course.

Your College Tutor may advise you to apply for a Postgraduate Hardship Award. This scheme aims to support students who are experiencing financial hardship as a result of unexpected changes in their financial circumstances. The awards are intended to support students who would otherwise be unable to complete their research or study. The scheme is funded by the University and Trust Fund donations (the Lundgren Fund and Harry Desai Fund) and administered by the Student Funding Team.

Please note that:

  • Awards are not normally made for more than £2,000.
  • All PhD students are eligible (including PhD students in their first year).
  • Applicants must currently be in financial hardship (speculative applications are not permitted).
  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate that their hardship is a result of unexpected changes in their financial circumstances, rather than a result of insufficient funding being available from the outset of the course.
  • The fund does not normally fund students who have completed their course.
  • If you are funded by the Cambridge Trust, you are expected to approach the Trust for further financial assistance before submitting an application to the Fund.
  • Applications may be shared with other relevant parties, including the Cambridge Trust.
  • Applications for thesis binding costs will be considered by the Postgraduate Hardship Fund, rather than by application through College Tutors (see the eligibility criteria and guidance below for further details). Please note that in order to be eligible students have to be in financial hardship. This scheme is partly funded through the Malati Sharma Memorial Award.

How to apply

1. Read the eligibility criteria and guidance.

2. Make an appointment to discuss your financial difficulties with your College Tutor.

3. Complete the online Hardship Awards Application by the relevant deadline (table below). Please remember to submit your application before the deadline. 

4. Your application form will automatically be sent to your Supervisor (who will be required to comment on your academic progress) followed by your College Tutor (who will be asked to comment on your financial circumstances). Please do not provide the same person as both your Supervisor and College Tutor as we require two separate supporting statements.

5.  Applications are assessed by the Student Funding Team and applicants are informed of the outcome of their application.

Timetable for 2020/21

    Applications open Applications close Supervisor deadline Tutor deadline Awards announced and payments made
Michaelmas Term 2020 Round 1 6 October  20 October  27 October  3 November w/c 9 November
  Round 2 4 November 18 November 25 November 2 December w/c 7 December
Lent Term 2021 Round 1 19 January 2 February 9 February 16 February w/c 22 February
  Round 2 15 February 8 March 15 March 22 March w/c 29 March
Easter Term 2021 Round 1 27 April 11 May 18 May 25 May w/c 31 May
  Round 2 26 May 9 June 16 June 23 June w/c 28 June
Long Vacation 2021   29 June 10 August 17 August 24 August w/c 30 August

Guidance for Supervisors and College Tutors

Supervisors and College Tutors who are providing supporting statements for students should familiarise themselves with the eligibility criteria and guidance above. In particular, they should note that applications cannot be accepted without the support of either Supervisor or College Tutor. The attention of College Tutors is also drawn to the list of documents that may be requested as evidence of a student's financial hardship.

The information on this page replaces any previous guidance referees may have received.


If you have any unanswered queries after reading the information above and the eligibility criteria and guidance, please contact

How do I appeal a decision?

If a student is not satisfied with the outcome of their application, they must submit an appeal in writing within 28 days of the date of the decision letter. Letters should be sent to and addressed to the University Hardship Committee, c/o Secretary of the University Hardship Committee. Appeals will be considered by a subcommittee of academics who sit on the University Hardship Committee and appeals will be escalated to the Chair of the Committee as and when required. The result of the appeal will be sent to the student within 28 days of receipt of the appeal, copied to their College Tutor.

Please note that decisions made regarding appeals are final.