Some Muslim students may be reluctant to take out their student loan entitlement, as these loans are charged interest, which does not comply with Sharia Law. Islamic Sharia Law prohibits the paying and receiving of interest for profit – this is known as ‘Riba’. Student loans provided by the Student Loans Company are charged interest on a sliding scale based on the Retail Price Index +3% (variable depending on income). Although student loans are charged profitable interest and are to be paid back, any student grants issued by the Student Loans Company do not get charged interest nor have to be paid back therefore it is expected that the student would take this if eligible.
Students are advised to apply to Student Finance whether they wish to take out the loan or not as in some cases; students may be eligible for grants and these are assessed in the same way as the student loan. Furthermore, the Income Related Bursary offered by Swansea University is assessed based on household income information that is supplied when applying to Student Finance. If a student does not apply to Student Finance, this information will not be received by the university and consequently the student could be missing out on the bursary if eligible. Again, bursaries are not charged interest nor have to be repaid therefore making them compliant with Sharia Law.
Some alternative sources of potential funding for undergraduate and postgraduate students wanting to comply with Sharia Law are:
- University Bursaries and Scholarships
- Part time work
- Funding from trusts and Charites
- Sharia Law bank accounts
- Interest free loans from Islamic banks
University Bursaries and Scholarships
Swansea University offer a number of bursaries and scholarships in addition to the Income Related Bursary mentioned above. Some of which are:
The Excellence Scholarship, which is awarded to undergraduate students who achieve AAA at A Level or equivalent. The scholarship is worth £3,000 and split over three years providing progression targets are met.
The Merit Scholarship,which is awarded to undergraduate students who achieve AAB at A Level or equivalent. The scholarship is worth £2,000 and split over three years providing progression targets are met.
Departmental scholarships and bursaries are also available. It is advised to contact your department for information on any specific scholarships and bursaries available.
Postgraduate scholarships and bursaries are available from the university also. Information on scholarships and bursaries available to postgraduate students studying on either a taught or research programme can be found on the university website.
Part Time Work
The Swansea Employability Academy (SEA) have an Employability Zone which helps students find graduate recruiters, part time work, internships and work placement opportunities. Students have to sign up to be able to access the Employability Zone but once signed up, have access to free SEA networking and training events, a copy of the annual Employment Zone magazine, introductions to other SEA offers and an invite to the annual SEA dinner. For more information, please visit https://myuni.swansea.ac.uk/employmentzone/.
Funding from Trusts and Charities
Students can approach trusts and charities for financial assistance to help through their university studies. The two guides we refer students to are:
The Grants Register by Palgrave and Macmillan – this publication is in the university library. The book provides information on the availability and eligibility of awards from trusts and charities for postgraduate students.
The Alternative Guide to Funding – this publication can be accessed online here: https://www.postgraduate-funding.com/. As Swansea University is a subscriber of the publication, our students can access it free of charge. Again, this publication outlines funding available to postgraduate students from trusts and charities.
Sharia Law Bank Accounts
Al Rayan Bank currently provides bank accounts that comply with Sharia Law. For more information on the services offered and how to apply, please visit their website.
Interest free loans from Islamic banks
Al Rayan Bank currently provide additional financial services such as; home financing, savings and investment services. For more information on any of the services offered, please visit their website.
Student Loan Company
The Government has been looking into the possibility of making an alternative student finance product available to students who would not take out a standard student loan due to the Sharia Law. A Sharia advisory committee would oversee this product. At present, we are still awaiting further information on this alternative finance product but information will be supplied as and when the Government make any announcements. The earliest we expect there to be an update in time for the 2018/2019 academic year.
Swansea University Opportunity Award
The Swansea University Opportunity Award is in place to help Home and EU students who are studying a full or part time structured course who are struggling financially. One of the main criteria of the fund is that all students have taken out their full student loan entitlement in order to be considered for assistance from the fund – this is the case for Muslim students also. The fund is not a form of funding. There is no intention to change the Swansea University Opportunity Award criteria in this area. If you would like to speak to a member of the Money@CampusLife team about the Swansea University Opportunity Award you can do so by calling 01792 606699, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or attending one of our drop in sessions:
Park Campus: Monday 9:30 – 12:30, Tuesday 1:00 – 4:00 and Thursday 9:30 – 12:30
Bay Campus: Monday 1:00 – 4:00, Tuesday 9:30 – 12:30 and Thursday 1:00 – 4:00.
This information is a brief guide only, and students who would like clarification on the issues should be referred to the University Iman, Mohsen El-Beltagi or The Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS).