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Credit Union Loans

To help you secure a future at Durham University, we are working in collaboration with NEFirst Credit Union Ltd who have developed a loan to provide financial assistance for Postgraduate Taught study. 

For Full-Time, UK self-financing students, we are delighted to be able to offer an opportunity to apply for a Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loan of up to £7,000, to cover the cost of fees, through our collaboration with NEFirst Credit Union Limited (The standard loan scheme is designed for full-time students who will complete their postgraduate course within one year, but applications from part-time students will be welcomed and considered.) 

Eligible applicants who are accepted for the loan will enter into an Approved Finance Agreement with NEFirst. The tuition fees will automatically be paid by NEFirst directly to the University. 

Any applicants who are not eligible for this scheme are still eligible to spread the cost of their tuition fees, interest free, paying in instalments by Direct Debit in line with University policy. 

NEFirst is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority & Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority & the Prudential Regulation Authority No 215686 


  • The loan product offered by NEFirst would be a maximum of £7,000, which would cover tuition fees which will be paid directly to the University. 
  • Any contractual arrangement will be between NEFirst and the applicant. 
  • The scheme is available to all UK residents who have a UK bank account, regardless of their undergraduate institution. However, NEFirst is bound by a ‘common bond’ requirement, meaning applicants must be living or working in Durham or have been offered a place at Durham University. Eligible applicants will be sent the link to the application form following their offer to study. This application will be the standard NEFirst loan application process. NEFirst will make a data request from Experian as part of the credit risk profiling. Prospective applicants are also invited to include guarantors as part of the application to lower the risk profile, and subsequently the cost of finance to the applicant. NEFirst will communicate the outcome to both the applicant and University usually within five working days. 
  • All applicants will become members of the credit union and would be required to save a minimum of £25 per month, by standing order, from the commencement of membership. 
  • No interest would be incurred, and no repayment required for the first twelve months following enrolment. Interest will be incurred and the loan will become repayable from month thirteen at a rate dependent upon the applicant’s credit profile. 
  • There is no formal early repayment penalty for credit union loans during the borrowing period but all loans are subject to a minimum repayment. 
  • Should a student withdraw from their programme, NEFirst will be advised by the University and the deferred repayment period will end, that is, the loan will become immediately repayable in line with the agreed repayment schedule. 
  • Loan applications can only be accepted subject to the availability of finance. Applications will be dealt with on a first come first served basis (subject to meeting the eligibility requirements). 


  • The scheme is available to applicants applying for full-time Postgraduate Taught Programmes. Applicants must be self-funding and not having their fees paid by a professional body or organisation. 

Successful Applicants 

  • Each successful eligible applicant must become a member of NEFirst in order to enter into an Approved Finance Agreement. This would entail saving a minimum of twenty five pounds (£25) per month from the commencement of membership as required under NEFirst’ s normal lending rules. 
  • Each successful eligible applicant that has become a member of NEFirst will then enter into an Approved Finance Agreement with NEFirst which is conditional, amongst other things, on confirmation of successful enrolment by the University. 
  • NEFirst shall notify each successful eligible applicant that it has entered into a binding Approved Finance Arrangement with, and provide the University with confirmation of the same. The University shall then open the online enrolment portal for such eligible applicant. 
  • Details such as a student’s enrolment status will be shared between the University and NEFirst whilst a student remains enrolled. 
  • Should a student withdraw from their programme, NEFirst will be advised by the University and the deferred repayment period will end, that is, the loan will become immediately repayable in line with the agreed repayment schedule. 

Financial Details 

  1. The finance cost will be at an annual rate of interest of between 6.2% and 9.4% depending upon the outcomes of the Experian credit score.
  2. The maximum loan value will be seven thousand pounds (£7,000) to cover tuition fees. 
  3. All loans will be on a twelve (12) month deferred payment schedule. 


  • £7,000 loan granted on 1st October 2015 
  • First repayment instalment due 1st October 2016 
  • Term 4 years (following first instalment) at a fixed rate of APR 9.4% 
  • Monthly instalments £163.98 
  • Interest during deferred period 0.00% APR 
  • Total amount repayable £8274.96 

Applicants may wish to include a guarantor as part of their application in a bid to reduce the interest rate. A guarantor would be a UK based parent or guardian that owns their own property, has outstanding equity on the property and is not subject to any existing garnishee order. There would be no charge made over the property. The guarantor will however become liable for the loan in the event of non-payment by the borrower which may lead to charging orders in the event of recovery. 

How to Apply 

Applicants should apply first to the University for a place on the course they are interested in studying. The University will provide a link to the NEFirst application form to those applicants who are made an offer of a place on their course and are interested in applying for the loan. Applicants interested in this scheme should apply direct to NEFirst. 

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