In the UK, there are around 100,000 doctoral researchers in higher education. This number has tripled in just a decade, which clearly shows that a significant amount of both British and international students are interested in continuing their education at UK universities.
Whether you finished with graduate school years ago or are finishing up soon, you might be thinking of pursuing a PhD in the near future. However, it can be difficult to juggle both academics and familial obligations. Your finances might be stretched tight, leaving you conflicted about getting a research degree.
Here are 10 top tips on how to get funding for a PhD so you obtain higher education when you want to. Everyone deserves a chance to procure the educational goals they desire.
When you pursue a degree, the costs can vary wildly depending on if you're a domestic or foreign student. For example, if you're a domestic student, you'll pay around £4,200 per year. But if you're a foreign student, that cost can be anywhere from £14,000 to over £43,000 a year, depending on the university you go to.
Your education isn't the only cost you need to consider either. You need to also factor in accommodations, transportation, and other factors of cost of living. For example, if you choose a uni in London, the cost of living is much higher than one in the North.
If you have children to take care of, you might also need to factor in childminding costs. And if you need to go part-time or take work off completely, you'll also have to consider the loss of income.
Chances are, you'll have to learn how to budget while getting your PhD so you make every penny worth it.
Now that's out of the way, here are our 10 tips.
Most (if not all) universities will have scholarships available for a variety of their students. This is to help people like you get higher education with less of a strain on their financials.
If you're currently studying in a graduate programme at a university, it's highly likely they have scholarship awards for those completing their degrees. Look into any awards they may have, such as scholarships that go toward the first year of your research degree.
Do note that some of these aren't applicable to recurrent postgraduate research students, so you might not be able to use this scholarship for all the other years. However, it can give you a great start, regardless of whether you're a domestic or foreign student.
Unfortunately, this option is only available to domestic and EU students. In addition, you'll need to have high marks to qualify for these studentships.
There are 7 councils that make up the Research Councils UK and they provide funding to different disciplinary areas, such as arts and humanities, biotechnology and biological sciences, and medical research.
These studentships come in 3 different forms: open, thematic, and project awards. The type you can apply for depend on which research area you're in.
Perhaps you're an international student; this means you won't be able to get a studentship from the Research Councils UK.
However, this doesn't mean you have zero options for funding. What you can do is check your own country's grant-awarding bodies.
You might also have a British Council office nearby, which may disperse some grants to certain international students in select countries. By making an appointment with them, you can find out if you qualify for these awards. And if not, the staff will be able to advise you further on what awards you can get.
In addition, it may be worth a try to directly contact your department at the university. They might be able to further advise you on any PhD funding opportunities.
If you aren't able to obtain any scholarships, then you might have to apply for loans to fund your PhD. Thankfully, the UK government has a scheme available for postgraduate doctoral loans. These funds can be used for anything related to your course, including housing and other living costs.
You can also take out loans from private lenders and banks if you're able to.
Do note that you'll have to pay these loans back at some point. In the case of the government-funded loan, you'll start repayments when your income exceeds a certain threshold. Interest will start accruing on the first day you receive your disbursement.
While charities usually focus their efforts on helping the less fortunate with basic necessities, there are actually quite a few that help fund PhDs for students like you.
Charities usually don't provide very large awards, which means it's very unlikely that you'll be able to pay a full year's tuition with just one charity's help. Instead, you'll have to rely on portfolio funding, where you gather up funding from various sources rather than just one.
If you're particularly close to your family members and/or friends, they could be possible sources for funding your research degree. After all, these are the people who love and support you the most, so if they have any disposable income, they'll surely be eager to help you get that PhD.
However, for some, money is a touchy subject and they don't feel comfortable asking for financial help from their loved ones. That's perfectly fine and in that case, you should just try other methods on this list.
If you don't feel comfortable asking loved ones directly for money, then crowdfunding is a great alternative.
The advent of the internet has made it very accessible and easy to put together crowdfunding campaigns. All you have to do is put one together then share it on your social media accounts. Should your family and friends not be able to financially help, at least they can share the campaign and get the word out so others can donate.
If you're in the unfortunate circumstance where you must fully fund your PhD on your own, then you might want to consider studying just part-time instead of full-time. You'll be able to still go to work instead of having to take time off temporarily. This will allow you to pursue higher education while still being able to pay your bills.
This can also inadvertently give you a leg up once you finish up your studies. While it might take longer for you to get your PhD, at least you'll receive your degree in a debt-free way. That way, you start off your career with a clean slate.
On that note, you should consider asking your employer for sponsorship. It wouldn't hurt to ask, and if you can show that your degree will help you along in your career at their company, they'll be more inclined to agree to a sponsorship.
Before you approach them, first put together an outline of all the important details, such as what you're studying, how many years it'll take to get your research degree, how much it'll cost total, and the benefits your employer will enjoy as a result. When you can approach them with a clear plan, this will be more impressive and again, they'll be more likely to fund your PhD.
This isn't exactly a tip for getting PhD funding, but it can definitely help you save a lot of money. Instead of doing a regular PhD, consider doing a distance learning programme.
This allows you to study from the comfort of your home, which in turn reduces the cost for numerous things, such as:
In addition, distance learning allows you to have a better commitment to work, since your uni hours are more flexible. This means you'll be able to work more to put more money in the bank than had you gone the traditional PhD route.
Now you know quite a few ways on how to get funding for a PhD. With these tips in mind, isn't the idea of a research degree so much more tangible?
If you didn't feel that confident about having the proper PhD funding before, hopefully, this article has put your mind at ease. While you might have to get creative, there are boundless PhD funding opportunities out there. If you're determined enough, you can make this degree a reality, all without having to drain your bank account.
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