Want to fund that conference or study trip?

So, you’ve got the chance to visit that library in Germany where they have your dream resources, or the conference in your discipline which is in the Maldives this year, or to do an internship in Switzerland – but there’s no funding available. What do you do?

If it’s a conference, check with the organisers if they have any funding you could apply for. There are very often bursaries available, though you’d normally have to compete for them. Also, any professional bodies in the same field might have prizes you could apply for. Some don’t need you to be a member, but for others, it’s members only – another good reason to join any relevant professional bodies as a postgrad.

Other than than, unless your School has a nice little fund marked “Spare cash for postgrads to go off on a jolly” (well, you might as well ask), you’ll have to put your research skills and persuasive powers to the test.

First up – have a look at Research Professional.
This is a subscription-only service which includes an extensive Funding Database and search facility. As the University of Manchester has a subscription, you should be able access it if you’re on the campus network. The advanced search lets you filter the database according to the Award Type (and by discipline, plus a load of other features, but I’d be careful to avoid filtering out potential opportunities at this stage by being too specific).

researchprofessionalThe Award types which might be most relevant are Travel to conferences, Travel for research purposes, Student awards, Predoctoral fellowships, Predoctoral training fellowships and Financial aid for postgraduate students. You can try any of the categories of course, but many of them are aimed at established academics who want to fund their research or to take on a postgraduate to carry out research (the academics are the ones who have to apply for this type of funding, not you).

There are often annual calls for awards, so you can either look at those which are currently open, or check out all the awards, even if they’re currently closed – then you can line everything up to be ready for applying for next year’s call, in good time.

How many awards are there? Well a search on all the “Financial aid for postgraduate students” category came up with 423 items. The “Travel to conferences …” search came up with 640 active calls, including some which seemed to be open to postgrads but didn’t come up on the “Financial aid for postgraduate students” search. Check them all!


No luck with Research Professional?

How about the Euraxess Funding Search?
This combines info from the EU and the British Council, and allows you to search for international awards available to postgraduates (“early career stage”), either going into or out of the UK, for travel, conferences, exchanges etc. There were only 26 schemes for travel to conferences outside the UK, but there might just be the one you need.


Prefer to be hands on?
If you’re old school and prefer print, have we got a tome for you … The Grants Register (it’s big!). You’ll have to come into the Careers Service to use this and you can’t take it away (but hey, it will be nice to see you).


This is a list of hundreds of grants and trusts who make awards to postgrads (and post-docs). Some of the awards are full scholarships, but most are smaller pots of money. They can be very specific, but if you really need the funding for that Medieval Summer School at the Gennadius Library, the A.G Leventis Foundation might help you with your tuition and accommodation (oops – but not until next year, as it closed a couple of weeks ago).

You can search by discipline and by country eligibility – who knows what you might find? It might be worth browsing your subject early in your degree, just to see if there are any awards you might be able to aim for later.

We do have some other books, such as the Guide to Educational Grants which cover some really obscure trusts. They often have very specific requirements for eligibility, but because of that, they sometimes struggle to give away the money. How about the Dorothy Bulkeley and Cheadle Lads Charity, for “People under the age of 25 living in the former district of Cheadle and Gatley (as constituted on 30 April 1974)”?

Let’s spread the net really wide
How about an online searchable database of all sorts of charities and grants, called Turn2Us?


It’s not aimed at students or education particularly, but covers all sorts of grants. For example, searching for grants for study or travel overseas, for UK single people aged between 18 and 35 who weren’t on benefits came up with 235 grants to trawl through. There are many categories, but some which might be most useful to you are tucked away under “Additional learning experiences/opportunities” – the first category in the list of “Help required”.

It’s worth ticking any religious affiliations, health issues, or different family circumstances which apply to you, as some trusts were set up with terms which only allow them to give out grants to people who are, for example, sons or daughters of shop assistants raised in the City of London (a genuine one I came across a few years ago – they struggled to find any). Definitely worth a try!

UPDATE 1/2/13
Just found out that the University has subscribed to the excellent Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding, written by two UK PhD students who seem to have made a career of blagging funding from charities (all genuine – they were self-funded, but have shown that you can fund a PhD from charitable trusts). It’s been available as a book in the Careers Service for a while, but it’s now available online with a University of Manchester login:

Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding

Not only does it go through sources of funding, but it also shows you how to make your case effectively. Even if you use some of the resources above, I’d suggest reading this as well, to give yourself the best chance of

Good luck with funding your travel (and don’t forget, the fact that you’ve been able to compete successfully for a special funding award will also look great on your CV).

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