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PhD Discussion Forum

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This Category:   PostgraduateForum.com > PhD Funding


Applying for PhD in UK

User: nateparfait - 13 January 2016 08:34

Hi guys, currently I am under a lot of stress applying for PhD in UK. I am from Singapore and have just concluded an exchange program in University of Edinburgh School of Chemistry. Firstly, my BSc (Hons) in Chemistry after graduating will probably be 2:2 missing 0.3 to 2:1. I am doing my bachelor dissertation/poster presentation by May 2016. Secondly, since I am not UK/EU citizen, I do not have the luxury to get studentships even though I already have a supervisor in University of Edinburgh. Therefore, I need to apply for scholarship and that is even worst as I do not even know if I can get accepted to the PhD, much less about the scholarship. Lastly, I do have a few research experiences throughout my 8 years of chemistry studies. From Pre-U Polytechnic School to University. Will they ever consider them as a plus or just by academic merit (I am out)?

Question 1: Is it possible for me to self-fund? Maybe at least for the first year if I were to be accepted.
Question 2: Should I go for a Taught MSc or MRes just to cover my 2:2 first? Which would mean that I am wasting (maybe not) a year.

I feel helpless, cheers.

User: satchi - 13 January 2016 13:14

hi nateparfait
welcome to the Forum. I have also seen some people with lesser results on their degree being accepted to do Phds. Research experience is always valuable.

1: It's possible to self-fund but depends on how. Do you already have funds ready at hand, or do you plan to work part-time? Even if you have funds only for the first year, it is quite difficult to carry on a phd and having to work to support yourself.

It is better to secure funding for the whole phd, or masters degree before starting.

If your funding runs out before you finish the phd, at least most of the groundwork would have been covered, and then you go out and look for some paid work, it won't be so bad.

2: This one is entirely up to you, and whichever course you can find. I don't think it is a waste of time.

There is again, the visa hurdle; you need to show proof of funds (or scholarship and acceptance letter) so that you can apply for a visa, I think it's a Tier 4 visa.

What I would do if I don't have any funding is to only apply for phds which offer funding.

hope this helps and best of luck
love satchi

User: nateparfait - 13 January 2016 13:24

Hi satchi!

Thank you for the reply, I feel much better now even though you are 100% right about most of the information. But I am still in doubt, I really hope the board would look at my experience and give me a chance.

To reply to 1: I should have the money to self-fund now at least for the first 2 years but I would need to work part-time probably to be able to cover for the rest of the fees. I always thought self-funding is not allowed for PhD. The requirements are too steep for me to achieve a funding, I mean I will try but fingers crossed.

To reply to 2: I am planning a backup to do Taught MSc/MRes as I am able to get in the minimum requirement, though I might still want to get some funding as it is ridiculously expensive for international fees.

Visa won't be a major problem for me as I am from Singapore, all I need is the acceptance letter.

You are right about applying for PhDs which offer funding but the sad part is most of it are for UK/EU students only. :((

User: TreeofLife - 13 January 2016 13:48

You will probably find it difficult to get a PhD scholarship with a 2.2. A masters will help you. Can you get any funding from your government?

User: TreeofLife - 13 January 2016 13:56

The UK is expensive to live and it will be difficult to earn enough money (ie you will need a good job or to work many hours a week) in order to work part-time and study full-time. This will also increase stress and decrease the likelihood of your enjoying your course. Think carefully before you choose to self fund.

You can self-fund for a PhD, but it's not recommended, and certainly very few Chemistry students will be self-funding.

If you are self-funding though, you can probably get on a PhD at some unis (not very good ones) with just a 2.2 and no MSc.

User: nateparfait - 13 January 2016 15:31

Thank you for your reply TreeofLife! Its much appreciated. I am very happy I can share my problems with people who have been there. The application processes are mentally stressing if you ask me. To answer your question, I would say yes but no because from my government, they are usually going to tie you down with some kind of bond (2-6 years depending). My problem is actually getting funding instead of entrance (of course that is also a problem but not as severe).

You are absolutely right about the UK, I have had friends in Edinburgh who works part-time but they are just doing their second year undergraduate, its a breeze if you ask me. Besides the minimum wage is only 6.80£, if I work every evening from 6-11 at nandos for example or some fish and chip shops, that would get me only 35£ a day and about 200£ a week then 800£ a month. Half of it is probably going to rent. 400£ x 12 months = 4800£ (me without spending or eating, a joke of course). The overseas fees for postgraduate is about 18000£. It's too much basically. But what drives me to study in UK is because of the excellent professors and future career, not to mention I am in love with Edinburgh.

Probably my only option is to do MSc Research then move to PhD, because while I am there and if I do well, I get scholarship by recommendations. Hopefully. But then again, MSc Research is pretty much self-fund, I hope I can get the partial scholarship to waive some £ off and 10% discount by the school :(

User: TreeofLife - 13 January 2016 17:50

You're right, it is pretty much a breeze working part-time whilst an undergrad, especially if it's a non-science course where you may only have 6 hours of lectures a week. I worked 15-20 hours a week during time term when I had 25 contact hours and worked full-time during holidays - no problem.

A PhD is a different matter. It's rare to find someone that can work a PhD like a 9-5. Many students, particularly international ones, work well into the evening and every weekend. It doesn't leave much time for a job. Even if you did work 6-11 every day, which you will struggle to maintain for any length of time, you will likely find yourself rushed, stressed and underachieving. A PhD is about more than putting in the hours 9-5. You need time to stop, think and reassess. You also need time to relax and to connect with other students.

You are also likely to struggle to get scholarships because you are not EU, recommendations or not. It's very rare to get a scholarship outside of the ones that are advertised as funded. I don't know a single non-EU student that isn't self-funded (and I only know 2 of these) or funded by their government. Pretty much all UK and EU students I know got their funding through applying to advertised positions with funding. Even with a UK MSc you are going to struggle to get UK funding. I think you should look into your government scholarships.

P.S. the minimum wage for under 21's is £5.30 an hour, so undergrads generally don't earn £6.80 p/h.

User: nateparfait - 14 January 2016 09:46

You are right! I really want to enjoy my PhD and not end up having anxiety issues due to money. I guess I will try to find something while doing MSc so I don't waste my time. I also hope I could get into funded advertised projects.

User: satchi - 14 January 2016 10:54

hi nateparfait
what I like about our Forum is that we learn something new everyday! Tree has given very useful advice, sorry for the stupid question, but why is it easier for someone from Singapore to get a visa?

I thought getting a student visa from a non-EU country also needs proof of funds, for at least a year, does this mean Singapore citizens don't need to show proof of funds?

If that is so, I think it's great, because Singapore has a good education system and produces exceptional students. I have also heard that some Singapore students are hardworking and high achievers.

Hope you find something that suits you, please keep in touch so that we can congratulate you!

love satchi

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