For Students: I need Postgraduate Funding. Can the Alternative Guide help?
The short answer: while there are no guarantees, it probably can!
Postgraduate Study continues to increase in popularity year on year. Whether it's to learn new skills, increase employability, or kick-start an academic career, more and more of us are studying for a Masters, PhD, PGCE, MBA, or equivalent. The problem, of course, is how to pay for it. Fees for a full-time home student for 2016/17 will average around £6,000, and more than double that if you’re from overseas or doing certain taught Masters courses. Independent maintenance - housing, food, utilities, study expenses - will be at least £12,000 year. Scholarships from universities or research councils are becoming extremely rare, and fewer than one postgraduate in fourteen manages to obtain one. While the new Postgraduate Loans System is welcome, only £10,000 a year will be available for certain Masters students, when the cost of study will be at least 50% (and maybe double) this figure. Even if they are prepared to get into yet more debt, most students will continue to struggle to meet the high cost of postgraduate study.
The Alternative Guide - now in its eighth edition - is designed to tackle this problem by helping current and prospective postgraduates think outside the box about funding. The Guide is all about 'alternative funding' from the voluntary sector: the thousands of charities out there which make grants to students. Charities are all around us, helping good causes where they find them. One of them might be your postgraduate study!
Charities are sometimes a bit unusual: obscure, hard to find, and funded by ‘old money’. But there will be dozens which will consider sponsoring you- whatever your course, university, nationality or background, and whether you need money for fees, maintenance, research costs, travel, or conferences.
But because charities are so different from ‘conventional’ funding sources, they require a unique approach: that’s where we can help. We'll take you through identifying charities, to finding them, to applying strongly and correctly. The Alternative Guide Online contains a searchable database of nearly 1,000 sources of funding, with more added each month. But more than this, the Alternative Guide is a methodology rather than simply a finding tool. And that methodology was written and developed by real students who faced and overcame the challenge of unfunded postgraduate study themselves, not by paid researchers who did not.
So, whether you need £3,000 to cover the cost of a research trip, or funding for full fees or maintenance for a whole PhD or Masters, this book can help! We are recent students ourselves, and won 55 charity awards between us. The Alternative Guide - as its name suggests - is a bit unusual, and a bit unconventional. But if you're creative and determined then you've got a good chance of joining the hundreds of students who have taken the often overlooked alternative path to funding their studies!
If you want to know more about how other students have successfully fundraised their postgraduate degrees using the Alternative Guide, please have a look at our new student stories section here.