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Finding postgraduate funding - top tips on searching and applying

Finding postgraduate funding - top tips on searching and applying

by Newcastle University

Thinking of studying at postgraduate level this year? In our latest blog, we help you source the latest funding opportunities and cover our top tips for a winning application. Read on to find out more.

Pursuing further study to achieve your career goals is exciting but navigating the funding and loans available can be a challenge.

We’ve pulled together key information to give you the best starting point to find funding for your postgraduate journey.

What are the different types of funding?

Postgraduate funding generally falls into the following categories:

  • sponsorship
  • loans
  • studentship
  • scholarship
  • bursary
  • award
  • discounts and payment instalment plans

Did you know that you can often combine funding sources, too? It’s a fantastic way to ensure that you make the most of the opportunities available.

Is there a deadline for funding applications?

Yes, but these will vary by individual scheme. The application deadline will usually be advertised as part of the funding advert, so make a note of this when you are researching. Although many of the big UK Research Council schemes do close in early spring each year, there are still lots of opportunities to consider.

Funding schemes are often announced throughout the year, so you need to remain vigilant!

How do you find out about new funding schemes?

Here at Newcastle University, we’ve done the hard work so you don’t have to.

We’ve created a helpful funding search-tool that highlights all long-standing, and new, schemes and helps you to identify what financial support you may be able to apply for.

Our postgraduate funding database  provides you with a rang of opportunities from awards from Charities and Trusts, to our own scholarship schemes – including the Vice-Chancellor’s Excellence Scholarships (VCES).

The database is easy to use, too. You just edit the search by keyword, or by filtering results based on your details, and we find you the most relevant funding opportunities. The database is updated weekly, so the number and type of funding opportunities will vary at any one time so it’s important to check back regularly and refresh your search.

We’d also advise looking for studentship information on the following websites: 

FindAPhD - details of studentships
jobs.ac.uk - PhD studentship information

Further sources to help you find out about new funding schemes, include:

Prospects - funding database
TARGETcourses - funding for postgraduate study
gov.uk - funding postgraduate study
MastersCompare - postgraduate studentships

In many cases the best advice is to bookmark the relevant pages/websites and check back regularly for updates.

Top tips on writing a personal statement to support your funding application

Now you’ve found the funding for you, it’s time to submit your application.

Below, we've rounded up our top tips on completing a funding personal statement:

  • Your personal statement is a vital part of your application. Use it to create a positive first impression by demonstrating your experience and skills, motivation and commitment.
  • Read the instructions provided on the funding advert carefully - do you need to have applied/been accepted on to a course before you can apply for funding? If so, you'll need to factor this into your planning and consider timeframes.
  • There will often be clear guidance notes on what to include in your personal statement and what the panel will want to see. Tailor your responses based on this framework. Don't be tempted to use the same personal statement for each application.
  • Although the personal statement for funding support will have some similar elements to a standard personal statement, you’ll need to highlight:
    • your background and motivations for the particular area of study
    • Your motivations for choosing the university in question - aside from the funding?
    • What attracted you to the department/field of study in question? How do their research interests match your own?
    • What experience do you currently have, and what experience do you expect/hope to gain from undertaking the degree?
    • How will the funding benefit you in the short term, but also in terms of your ongoing career? What are your goals and objectives?
    • What do you plan to do once you have undertaken the course/research project? For example, think about wider benefits to society and your local community
    • If you’re applying to a partially funded position, how do you intend on paying the additional monies to cover the cost of tuition and accommodation?
    • Not all of the experience and achievements you highlight need to relate to your previous academic credentials. What extra curricula and practical skills development can you talk about? For example, jobs, internships, volunteer work – these are all relevant to the application and demonstrate your wider expertise and level of transferable skills.
  • Remember the funding panel need to feel confident that you are a good fit and would be a responsible steward of their funds. Why not ask a friend or family member to read over the statement – based on what you have written, would they pick you?

Setting up these conditions will help create a desired behaviour and by repeating it should help instil a habit.

We are here to help

Find out more about your funding opportunities.

We want you to find the right course, but we also want to make sure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision about your future.

Why not explore our postgraduate blogs to hear from our postgraduate experts and current postgraduate students?

Download your postgraduate funding guide