Postgraduate Funding for University Students through Grants from Charity | GradFunding


About GradFunding: publishers of The Alternative Guide

GradFunding was founded in 2008 as a social enterprise dedicated to postgraduate funding from charities. We publish The Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding which is available right here as a web resource! It's also available in printed, CD, and PDF form. The Alternative Guide is the most popular postgraduate funding resource in the UK, and has sold over 500,000 copies or licences in the five years we've been publishing. Read more about the history of the Guide since 2008 here. We've also won two major academic prizes, and been featured in The Guardian, the Telegraph, Sky News, The Independent, Vitae,, and in GradBritain.

We sell subscriptions of the Alternative Guide to individual users, and licence it centrally to universities. We have 100 university subscribers, and this number is increasing all the time.

Finally, we offer Award-Winning Training Workshops. Read more about our Products and Services.

Our Team

Dr. Luke Blaxill is co-Director of GradFunding. He was rejected over a dozen times from various research council and university scholarships, and started his PhD at King’s College London unfunded. Over the next 4 years, he gained 45 separate charity awards totalling over £40,000. Read his story here. He was inspired to first write the Alternative Guide to help more cash-strapped students access the sorely underutilised voluntary sector. He is also our lead workshop and webinar facilitator, having delivered nearly 200 such sessions!

Luke was also Junior Research Fellow in History at Hertford College, University of Oxford, then Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at Anglia Ruskin University and is currently lecturer in Modern History back at Oxford. He enjoys collecting eccentric items, including military jackets and busts of nineteenth century politicians. If you have an enquiry on an academic matter not related to postgraduate funding, and want to get in touch with Luke, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . For an enquiry related to postgraduate funding or the Alternative Guide, please contact us.
sz1 Dr. Shuzhi Zhou is GradFunding's second co-Director, having joined the company to also develop the Alternative Guide. Her background is in the Biological Sciences (PhD Neuroscience from King's College London). She specialises in Science Funding, and is particularly experienced at fundraising for research, travelling, and conferences. Shuzhi's PhD was fully funded for three years, but she funded her fourth year, and all her conference expenses from charities. Shuzhi has helped pioneer the transformation of the hard copy Alternative Guide to its current web resource version, and also spearheaded the development of our consultancy, workshops, training, and talks. In her spare time, Shuzhi is also a classical pianist, and is interested in vintage fashion and glamour - owning an impressive collection of fine garments - and Chinese (especially Sichuan) cooking. Read more about Shuzhi's fundraising story here.
Dr. Lucy Atkinson joined us more recently, after writing to tell us about her outstanding success in using the Alternative Guide to support her PhD in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Northampton, which she began with no funding. You can read her fundraising story here. Lucy has since become a key member of our training team, and has given more than 50 workshops and talks at 20 different universities. She also helps us with research and publicity, and has written a number of articles for us on sites such as the Complete University Guide and the Brilliant Club. Lucy brings her own experience and approach to GradFunding, helping us to refine and update our advice and guidance. She was also a lectuer at Roehampton, before moving to Arden University.
Raihan Islam is the Director of defineXtend who are the designers and programmers behind this website. Also a lawyer, Raihan has been involved with the Alternative Guide since 2009, having first met us at King's College London. DefineXtend bring together a multidisciplinary and international team, involving programming and web development services from a diverse range of countries, including Bangladesh and Ukraine. Raihan also appeared with Luke Blaxill on Sky News in 2013.
Sheila Volpe is the graphic designer for the print form of the Alternative Guide, and has acted as a consultant on design related issues, both print and offline. A seasoned graphic designer with more than 30 years' experience, Sheila has worked for some of the most prestigious design companies in the UK including Marshall Cavendish, and has been art director on well known magazines with huge circulations, including She. Sheila now lives in Suffolk with her husband David and greyhound Cecil.
Julius Howe is the company accountant. Julius is also experienced in many strands of company and commercial law, and has provided GradFunding with invaluable advice, especially on commercial matters. A man of many talents, Julius is also an esteemed comic artist whose work has been published in a number of esteemed outlets. A connoisseur of beer, Julius also owns a large collection of comic art and various memorabilia and other strange objects from the 1980s.
Jacob the Crow is our company mascot. From a venerable but hard-up aristocratic family, Jacob managed to secure funding from numerous obscure sources to fund his schooling, and to finance both undergraduate and postgraduate study at an excellent university. He was due to take a seat in the Upper Chamber, but his family lost their right to send him there due to the House of Lords Act, 1999. With little now to do, he idled many years away in the leafy environs of various scenic English market towns. He first met us on a punt one Summer, having tired of his previous company. Jacob enjoys Pimms, and drinks several glasses a day. Jacob was drawn by the esteemed cartoonist Julius Howe.