Thursday, 11 October 2012

Funding: the bane of my existence

So it's now been just over a month since I have handed in my MSc thesis. I decided that I would put off starting my PhD for a few months while I apply for funding, and go home to Canada for a few months. As I have discovered, being an international student in the UK is very difficult when it comes to funding. For example, at the University of Bristol, there is one international studentship given out each year for the whole faculty of science. Basically what I've been told is that Earth Sciences will never get it, because we can't win Nobel prizes in general. So frustrating! So for funding, I have to look outside of the university.

Now from what I can tell, I'm pretty lucky because there are a number of Canadian funding sources that will fund you even if you're outside of Canada. And when I say a number, I really mean around 5. The big one of course is NSERC, the big government funding body. I just finished up my application for it, and although there was a lot to do, it's at least fairly straight forward. Then there are things like the Canadian Federation of University Women, that offer lots of scholarships, and it's very complicated to apply (like 7 copies of everything, 3 copies of reference letters, I don't even want to know how much paper this will be). Oh ya, then there's the O'Brien Foundation. They are just great. And by that, I mean they suck. Their website says that their grants are "primarily" for residents of New Brunswick. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but "primarily" means that sometimes they make exceptions, right? Well apparently not. I sent in my application, and about an hour later, got an email saying I wasn't eligible because I'm not from New Brunswick. I sent them a very annoyed email asking them to clarify their website if that is the case, since I wouldn't have put so much effort into it. Annoying!

There are a few other ones I can apply for, but they don't have deadlines until the new year, so I'm ignoring them for now. I'm also currently working on numerous funding applications for travel and research, since I plan on doing some museum visits. Hopefully those will come through.

Otherwise, I've run into an interesting predicament. I've heard from people from other universities, that they could help to fund an international PhD, albeit not entirely, but at least partially, through department or school funding. Then the question was raised, if they can do it, why can't Bristol?? To that, I can only say: I have no idea. I'm not sure why Bristol seems unwilling to help international students. All I know is it's very frustrating. All I want is a little bit of money to help me through! Who wants to help? Anyone? Pleeeeease?