Hailey Maxwell, PhD History of Art, University of Glasgow
Funding for PhD Fees
I began my PhD in History of Art at the University of Glasgow in 2015. I was 22, had no funding and was supporting myself through a part-time, minimum wage job in retail which just about covered my living expenses as long as I adhered to a very strict austerity budget.
Although I had received one academic award which carried a cash prize, I had been unsuccessful in my application for both research council funding and a full scholarship from my university. The prospect of paying both fees and maintenance costs myself was totally out of the question for me financially. However, I was very determined that I was going to make my studies happen despite this barrier.
I decided to study part-time to reduce the cost of my fees, but I realised that I was going to have to be more creative in my search for funding.
I got access to the Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding through the University of Glasgow's subscription. As well as providing a list of possible funders, I feel that it has been through following the advice on application writing and approaches to grant searching given by the Alternative Guide that I have managed to get enough funding to cover my fees for the first year. As well as using the Alternative Guide, I have trawled through grant registers and online databases to find appropriate sources of funding and have learned to approach potential funders in a systematic manner. The process involves keeping track of multiple applications and being aware of deadlines as well as making multiple trips to the Post Office.
For two years I have been lucky enough to receive support from the Scottish International Educational Trust; a fantastic initiative dedicated to helping Scottish people with merit succeed in their field in the absence of public funding. The SIET have been very good to me and have given me the most financial assistance of any grant awarding body. I am forever grateful for their support; without the awards given by this particular organisation, continuing my studies would not have been feasible.
I have also managed to get smaller grants from the McGlashan Charitable Trust which also funds Scottish students, and the Glasgow Educational and Marshall Trust and the Clark (Mile-End) Bursary Fund, which both specifically fund students from Glasgow.
Choosing to study at PhD level as a self-funded part-time student has meant making quite a few sacrifices, and every closed door I was met with as I tried to get funding from the university was extremely demoralising, and made continuing as a doctoral student seem impossible. One of the most valuable things for me about getting access to the Alternative Guide was that it gave me the hope that with enough dedication, long-term planning and perseverance, I would be able to continue studying.
As the funding situation for continuing students at my University becomes more narrow and public funding for academia - and especially the Humanities - gradually diminishes every year, I feel very grateful to all of the trusts and organisations who continue to support individuals and recognise the value in education and learning in culture and the arts. I am hopeful that I will be able to meet my funding deficit and be able to continue as a full-time student from 2017.
We think Hailey's particular success with charities for Scots, and students from Glasgow, shows the particular value of local charities which can be more obscure. We wish Hailey al the best for next year!