Funding your study – Five steps to success

When anyone considers embarking on further study, there are two questions often foremost in their minds: Where? and How?

Make your dream of graduating from BSG a reality
Make your dream of graduating from BSG a reality

We hope that, since you’re reading this blog, you can already answer the where question. You want to study with us at the Blavatnik School of Government. You’ve decided that BSG’s Master of Public Policy (or the Doctorate programme – these steps apply to prospective DPhil students too) is the right programme for you. You love our approach that brings a practical focus to multidisciplinary study of public policy in a truly global context. You aspire to a vision of a world better led, better served and better governed. And you come with the academic excellence, evidence of leadership skills and commitment to public service that we are looking for.

That’s terrific news!

But wait. You’ve just looked at how much it would cost you to study here, and you realise that’s going to be a big challenge.

So what do you do? Well, here we outline the five steps you need to take to ensure that your lack of financial means does not become a barrier to your success in studying at the Blavatnik School of Government.

#1 – Apply!

Don’t let lack of funding stop you from applying or you’ll definitely never get here. That would be like slamming the door before you even get to peer through the keyhole! So, make sure you review our application guidance and get your paperwork submitted on time.
See also Casper’s Blog on 3 things for application success

#2 – Start your funding research early

Whether or not you know you’ve got a place here – actually, even whether or not you know you want to apply – it’s really worth doing your funding research as early as that first seed of thought about further study. For example, the Rhodes scholarships are awarded a whole year before our admissions process starts, and so it’s already too late to try to get a Rhodes scholarship for the 2015-16 academic year.

We’ve gathered a few links to excellent resources below. Why not start from here and see where the search takes you?

#3 – Be alert to deadlines and eligibility criteria

What a pity if you missed applying for something because you didn’t know you were eligible for it! (Or, almost as bad, you spent time and effort on applying for something that you’re not even eligible for.) Or what if you fail to get funding, simply because you didn’t notice one of the deadlines? Research your options carefully – see the links below – and note down the deadlines in your calendar.

#4 – Apply for anything and everything that you might be eligible for

Think creatively and strategically about what kind of organisations you might proactively approach for funding – even if they haven’t advertised scholarships or bursaries. You could approach your past or present employers, local community organisations who would take great pride in helping to send you to Oxford, or charities and NGOs working in your areas of interest. Some people have even turned to crowdfunding to get financial assistance from complete strangers via the internet. (Look at Hubbub as an example of an education-oriented crowd-funder platform.)

Don’t worry at this stage about covering the full costs of your study and living expenses. You can bundle a number of financial awards together to meet your costs. For example, the award-winning Alternative Guide to Graduate Funding was written by two UK-based PhD students who, between them, won over £45,000 from 52 different charity awards. (The University of Oxford subscribes to this funding guide, and you can find information on how to get free access from the Other Funding Sources webpage.)

Also, thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we have a range of financial awards available for students who have exhausted all other avenues of funding support and yet still need a proportion of their costs covered.

#5 – Don’t give up

Some of our current students did not get confirmation of their funding until two weeks before the course started! Obviously that was a not-ideal, nail-biting time for them. But the point is that they hung in there, and their tenacity paid off.

The BSG Funding Committee, which considers all candidates for financial assistance, is often not able to make funding decisions until June or July because of various University-wide decision processes. The Committee will want to see evidence of your own efforts into securing funding for your study, as one of their criteria is to be sure BSG support goes to individuals who have demonstrated their commitment to coming here. So, really, keep researching and keep applying for funding, right until the very end.

Read former student Luisa Cadena’s story to find out how – in the end – she successfully sought funding for her MPP.

And, finally, good luck!

Many of our students have spoken of studying at the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government as a dream come true. If you are successful in your application to study here, following these five steps to funding success will ensure your dream, too, becomes a reality.

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