Ashley Owen, MA Philosophy, King's College London
Raising money for Tuition Fees
I am a part-time MA student, currently in my first year studying Philosophy at King’s College London. I studied Philosophy for my undergraduate degree at University College London, and after graduating and working for a charity for a few years I decided I wanted to return to university and study the subject at postgraduate level. However, the cost of doing so seemed insurmountable. I knew I would have to continue working and study part-time in order to be able to support myself, but I still couldn’t see how I would be able to afford the fees. Then I found the Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding, which really opened my eyes to the multitude of funding opportunities available out there if you know where to look.
For me, the most difficult part was finding charities that I was actually eligible to apply to. At 27, I was above the upper age limit for a large number of charities. Many also have very specific requirements about where you have to live and so on, in order for you to qualify, and some also only fund full-time students. In other cases, bodies were so obscure that it was difficult to even find out what criteria you had to fulfil in order to apply. More than once I had responses thanking me for my interest but informing me that unfortunately the organisation was not currently funding postgraduate students. However, I kept persevering, and in the end it paid off!
I was lucky enough to be awarded a partial scholarship from King’s, which covered a substantial proportion of my tuition fees. In addition to this, I won two grants from charitable organisations- the Headley-Pitt Charitable Trust, a local charity which helps students who live in Kent, and then the Ruby and Will George Charitable Trust, which helps students who can demonstrate that they - or a member of their family - have a background in commerce (i.e. the sale of goods and services). This combo of a university scholarship with charities meant that I only had to pay £400 towards my fees myself. This was a fantastic result, and my attempts were far more successful than I had expected!
I have no doubt that without the Alternative Guide, I would not have been able to take up my place on this course, and I would strongly recommend all students to make use of it. It may seem as though money is a massive barrier to postgraduate study, but with dedication it is possible to overcome it and follow your dreams!
Update (April 2015): Ashley has kindly let us know that she has been successful in gaining a renewal of her Ruby and Will George Trust grant for her second year, and also has won a new grant from the Yorkshire Ladies' Council of Education!
Ashley is continuing to fundraise via charity throughout her Masters. Good luck Ashley!