Postgraduate Funding for University Students through Grants from Charity | GradFunding

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Maria Goldsmith, MSc Wound Healing, Cardiff University

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I graduated from the University of Southampton in 2013 and I now work as a NHS Specialist Podiatrist in two large teaching hospitals in London. Podiatry is unfortunately a much less glamourous or well known about allied health profession compared with, say physiotherapy: a podiatrist manages conditions which affect the lower limb and predominantly I manage patients with complications of the feet due to diabetes. My role involves recognizing ulcers, infection, circulation and joint problems quickly to prevent amputations and systemic illness. I enjoy education and I always intended to start a post graduate degree at some stage.

Last year I applied to Cardiff University for their MSc distance learning course in Wound Healing and Tissue Repair. I chose this course as it is known to be a highly regarded course in this field and it attracts health professionals from around the world from many different specialties.

Whilst I was ecstatic when I received my acceptance letter, the complete three year MSc cost would be over £9000 which terrified me. I knew fully funding this amount myself would not be possible whilst also supporting myself living in central London. I looked up funding options on Cardiff University website when I came across the Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding. I had no idea until reading this that so many students had had such huge successes securing funding by writing to various charities, trusts and foundations. I immediately decided this seemed like the best approach in securing supportive funds instead of immediately applying for a postgraduate loan.

I knew this approach would be incredibly time-consuming, many charitable trusts particularly have specific criteria: for example; certain ages; living in a certain location; undertaking a course in particular field. I decided to write only to the organizations where I seemed to meet their criteria, but I still probably wrote at least twenty personally tailored letters to different organizations. I found a number of them by searching online, but the best resource was when I went to my local library and used ‘The Directory of Grant making trusts’ which is a huge reference book containing a wealth of potential funding sources. In each of my letters I wrote a bit about myself, why I was undertaking my course, why they should support me, a financial statement and a copy of my university acceptance letter with the fee amount.

I received about five rejection letters before I heard from the Brighton and Hove Educational Trust who offered me £250 to support me through my course. This trust offered funding for residents of Brighton and Hove where I grew up and lived at the time, to people under the age of 25. I then heard from the Women’s Education Fund to say unfortunately their funding had already been allocated but that my letter had interested them and recommended I apply for a different grant. It meant a lot to me that this charity had gone out of their way to help me. I ended up with another £60 towards my course from the Dorothy Carver Fund that was recommended to me. Finally, the largest fund I secured was from the Novo Nordisk Research Charity that gives money to people studying or working within the field of diabetes for £500. All in all, I was so happy that I managed to raise this amount of money and I was also amazed of the kindness of these organizations that are willing to invest in a stranger that had written a letter. I have since written to all of the above with a letter of thanks and advised how the money was spent. I recommend anyone considering a postgraduate degree to spend just one weekend really focusing and tailoring bespoke letters to charities that you meet the initial specification for and hopefully you will be as lucky as I was.

I have done the same approach for this academic year and have already raised another £750, bringing the total up to nearly £1,600- so it wasn’t a fluke!

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