Access to Learning Fund (ALF) | University of Oxford
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Access to Learning Fund (ALF)

The Access to Learning Fund is based on national guidelines and assists Home students who experience financial difficulty.

The maximum award is £2,500 and awards are paid in termly instalments.

Who is eligible to apply?

All undergraduates and postgraduates who have Home fee status. Suspended students are also eligible to apply.

What should applicants be aware of before submitting an application?

Before applying students must have taken out the full government support available to them, unless there is a good reason why this is not the case. This could include the undergraduate tuition and maintenance support, Postgraduate Master’s Loan, and benefits including Disabled Students’ Allowances and Tax Credits.

The Access to Learning Fund can help to alleviate financial hardship, however it cannot provide core funding for graduate students who were underfunded at the start of their course or be used towards fees.

In assessing applications, guidance must be followed which assumes that a student receives a minimum income level per week regardless of whether or not this is the case. ALF cannot provide support for a full-time student’s tuition and college fees.

What is the application procedure and deadlines?

Applications for 2016/17 will be accepted between Monday 3 October 2016 (Week 0 Michaelmas Term) and Friday 23 June 2017. The application form and guidance will be available from Monday 19 September to allow students to start preparing their application, if needed. 

Students can obtain a hardship application form through their College Hardship Officer or from Student Fees and Funding. The College Hardship Officer varies across colleges but could be your Senior Tutor, Bursar or Academic Administrator. Please contact your college office if you are unsure of who to contact. Complete applications should be submitted by the student or their college to Student Fees and Funding. The form include sections for the student, college and tutor or supervisor to complete, and applications will only be considered if all sections have been completed.

Once a complete application is received, and with all documentary evidence, we aim to process the application and provide an outcome within four weeks. This may take longer outside of term time.

If appropriate and relevant to the case a student may need to provide medical evidence. The Oxford Medical Certificate may be used for this purpose, though this does not preclude the provision of appropriate information in other formats.

How are applications assessed?

Applications are assessed against expected income and essential expenditure for the current academic year. Any additional need is identified once these have been calculated. Essential expenditure is based upon national recommendations and the capping of certain costs. This helps to ensure that students are treated equally regardless of lifestyle.

Students can only be given an award for costs incurred during the academic year. The period a student is assessed over is dependent upon the course length and expected completion date, and students should include all income and expenditure for their appropriate period of study, regardless of when during the year they are applying. Periods of assessment are generally as follows:

Undergraduate students:  39 weeks from 1 October 2016 to 30 June 2017.

Undergraduates with extended terms (e.g. final year Chemistry, PGCE): 43 weeks from 01 October 2016 to 31 July 2017.

Medical students in their fourth, fifth or sixth year (second, third and fourth year Graduate Entry Medicine students): 52 weeks from 01 October 2016 to 30 September 2017.

Taught Master’s students: varies depending on course length. The assessment will start from 01 October 2016.

DPhil students: 52 weeks from 01 October 2016 to 30 September 2017, unless the submission date is earlier.

Can students make repeat applications?

Students can submit an application in the current academic year even if they have applied in a previous year of their course. They can only reapply in the same academic year if their circumstances substantially change. Receiving an award in one year is no guarantee of a future award, therefore the fund should not be relied upon as a guaranteed source of funding.

How are students and colleges notified of the outcome?

The outcome of an application will be sent via email to the student, with their college copied in. Payment of any award will be made directly to the student, to the account specified in their application.

If a student is not happy 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 the Chair of the University Hardship Committee, c/o Secretary of the University Hardship Committee, Student Fees and Funding, Examination Schools, High Street, Oxford, OX1 4BG or to


Appeals will be considered by the Chair of the University Hardship Committee and the results of the appeal will be sent to the student within 28 days of receipt of the appeal, copied to their College.

An appeal must either:

(i) Contain new or more detailed information relating to the applicant’s situation which was not available to them at the time of their original application.  Applicants must be able to provide compelling reasons why the information was not available in the first instance, or

(ii) Dispute the application decision by demonstrating that the decision was procedurally flawed, for example that the decision was not taken in accordance with the funding criteria.

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