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How to Find Resources for Funding Your PhD

Attracting funds for your PhD degree can sometimes prove more difficult than actually writing the PhD thesis, at least for some students in the UK. Essentially, the funding for a PhD, which can include fees and living expenses, can be generated from a variety of sources,

What options are there?

Sources of funding include UK Research Councils, various charities and funding bodies, overseas governments and even the European Union initiatives. Funding can also be generated from the universities’ own accounts in the form of financial aid. Some students may be funded by their employer and others may take out a loan to finance their PhD. Interestingly, one-third of doctoral degrees are completely self-funded by the students themselves, whereas 21% of the doctoral degrees are funded by the Universities and 15% are funded by the UK Research Councils.

In UK universities, some additional funds are also generated from national Higher Education funding bodies including The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) for covering the cost of supervising the doctorates.

Alternative options for home and commonwealth students

More recently, the UK have introduced doctoral student loans to ease the pressure of the candidates. It’s important to note that the main sources of public funding for PhD, namely Research Council studentships and doctoral student loans, are not available to the non-European Union students. However, for international students, various forms of scholarships and loans are available. The Commonwealth Scholarship is a flagship scheme built under the aegis of the UK Department for Education (DFE) and Department for International Development (DFID) and supported by a strong alumni network.

The Commonwealth Scholarships include PhD scholarships for students residing in high income countries, students residing in low and middle income countries, and separate split-site scholarships for high income and low and middle income countries. The Newton Fund incorporates two PhD fund schemes including Newton PhD Scholarships and Newton PhD Placements for full time candidates and one year candidates from a select list of countries, respectively. The Saltire Scholarship  provides assistance to candidates from Canada, the USA, China, India, and Pakistan. Their financial aid extends up to £4,000 towards the PhD, given that the candidate is pursuing their PhD from Scotland.

Country Specific PhD Funding

Apart from the mentioned corpuses, various country specific PhD funds are also allocated such as:

  • Endeavour Postgraduate Scholarships and Australia Day Foundation Trust for Australian candidates
  • Canadian Centennial Scholarship Fund for Canadian candidates
  • GREAT Scholarships, China-Oxford Scholarship Fund, BAFTA Scholarships, and China Scholarship Council for Chinese candidates
  • Hong Kong Jockey Club Scholarships for Hong Kong candidates
  • GREAT Scholarships and Felix Scholarships Indian candidates
  • Kenneth Lindsay Scholarship Trust and Anglo-Jewish Association Karten Scholarship for Israel candidates
  • Ministry of Higher Education Scholarships for Kuwait candidates
  • Global Education Program (GEP) for Russian candidates, Marshall Scholarships and Fulbright Postgraduate Awards for US candidates.

Trusts and Organisations

There are also international trusts and organisations that can provide PhD funding. These include:

  • The Leverhulme Trust
  • The Wellcome Trust
  • The British Heart Foundation
  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • The Rhodes Trust
  • Article 26 of Helena Kennedy Foundation

In addition, various specialist services can be availed to delineate various funding sources in the UK.

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