Postgraduate Funding for University Students through Grants from Charity | GradFunding



Heather Royall, MA Music, Guildhall School Music & Drama
Funding for Fees
alex whiteborder

I am a clarinettist coming to the end of my two-year masters at Guildhall School of Music and Drama (GSMD). I couldn’t have survived in London for two years without the generosity of the charities, who have supported me throughout my studies. As any London-based student will know, rent prices are sky high in the city, and initially the idea of trying to find enough money to cover rent, tuition fees and general living expenses can seem completely overwhelming. Luckily, I had enough part-time work to cover the living expenses, but I desperately needed help with my tuition fees.

I started to search for funding about nine months before embarking on my masters and began with the local library which had up-to-date funding guides. Many of the musical charities I found through this method had dissolved or had changed their terms (e.g. they were only funding singers or organists as opposed to instrumentalists). Guildhall sent out a funding guide soon after I started my search, and the Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding was listed. It was really helpful to have a database of this kind and I wrote to, emailed, or applied online to any charity which looked like it might help. Another helpful search engine was the Help Musicians Funding Wizard (music specific). Many of the charities which asked for postal applications either didn’t get back to me or replied saying they were no longer supporting students.

However, I was lucky with some. I already had links with The Zetland Foundation, a music-specific Trust which supports young musicians and the Leverhulme Trust supported me through Guildhall. The Richard Stapley Educational Trust supports people embarking on a Masters programme who received a first class honours in their undergraduate degree and are particularly generous. The Women's Careers Foundation and The Yorkshire Ladies' Council of Education are both charities which support women and although they are not able to offer as much money as some of the others, their contributions certainly helped me a great deal. During my second year I received direct funding Guildhall School of Music and Drama, in addition to second grants from The Richard Stapley Educational Trust and The Yorkshire Ladies' Council of Education, and also first-time support from The Altrusa Careers Trust.

The process of applying for funding can seem boring, demoralising, endless and hopeless at times- but I can’t emphasise how important it is to ask anyone and everyone and not to give up. Be polite and honest – these charities exist to help people, and the worst that can happen is getting no response or them saying ‘no’. In a way I treated the process like a job – I did a little bit of work every day and in the end it paid off. If I were to offer some advice to people embarking on an alternative funding search I would say use a database resource to help find relevant sources of help; keep a list of charities you’ve applied to and hope to apply to (with deadlines); keep every application and reuse materials as much as possible to save time; pace yourself; and apply even if you think there’s only a 5% chance of success!

Heather was one of the the winners of the Alternative Guide Annual Prize draw, winning a prize of £100. Congratulations! If you would like to apply to our next prize draw, you can do so here.