Postgraduate Funding for University Students through Grants from Charity | GradFunding


Rose Roberto, PhD Design History, University of Reading
Funding for Travel and Research
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I was fortunate that my tuition fees were covered by the AHRC, through a collaborative doctoral programme (CDP) between University of Reading and the National Museums of Scotland. My funding covered 3 years’ tuition with a £1,000 travel stipend. This would be reasonable and generous if the university department and museum were in the same city, or even in the same region of the UK. However, Edinburgh and Reading are 324 miles apart!

Initially, the distance between the two institutions didn’t seem like a barrier. I was living in Sheffield, halfway between Edinburgh and Reading, and again, this seemed ideal- being originally from the United States, I wasn't phased by travelling long distances, and used the train rides to get research work done. However, what was expensive were train fees and to a lesser extent accommodation. Even with a student railcard and staying at airbnbs, youth hostels, and (when I could) with friends, I quickly burned through my travel funding. It was at Dr. Luke Blaxill's workshop on Alternative Funding Sources that I attended in Reading that I was able to look into other ways of funding my necessary travel for research.

At the workshop itself, when I introduced myself and said I was studying 19th century book illustration, Luke suggested a small grant option would be from the Bibliographic Society, and also said that there were grants specifically for research related to Scotland. After doing some research after the workshop, I did get two minor grants from the Bibliographic Society and the Catherine Mackichan Trust. Following on from this, I also managed to get two grants for research and travel from the Royal Historical Society, one from the Design History Society, as well as a bursary from the British Association of Victorian Studies. Although I've been unsuccessful with a few applications (for instance, the Printing Historical Society's view was to prioritise the funding of others who were not AHRC funded), I'm glad that I applied and got the experience. The key for these small applications is to be specific in what the funds will be used towards, and to keep receipts, of course. In addition, it helps to
argue how you or your research relates specifically to the work of the charity or trust in question. Plus it's an advantage to have these other successful grant applications on your CV. Even if the amounts are individually small, the funds do add up. As it happens, the AHRC now funds an extra six months of the CDP, but I guess if it had been like this for me at the beginning and all my travel needs and expenses were met, I would never have found out about these alternative opportunities.

We think Rose's story shows that even if you are already fully funded by a research council award (such as the AHRC) charities and trusts can still be extremely useful in helping fund research and travel costs (not to mention final year writing up costs for a PhD) that go beyond the scope of your scholarship.

Rose has also let us know that, since she submitted this story to us, she has also gained two further awards: one from the British Society for the History of Science, and a further award from the British Association of Victorian Studies. Congratulations!