Category Archives: Funding

I accepted the studentship offer from City

This doesn’t mean I won’t be going to Northumbria, though.

This morning I spoke with someone at City to explain my dilemma, which is that I have to give City an answer before I hear from Northumbria. She thanked me for being upfront about it and said that every year they do have a few people who accept studentships and then change their minds. She also said it would be foolish for me to reject their offer just because I haven’t heard from Northumbria yet. We agreed that if I decide to go to Northumbria I will let her know as soon as I know, so that they can give the studentship to someone who is on the waiting list.

We also talked about some aspects of the PhD work and my topic and my supervisors and what they especially liked about my proposal and my background. I’ll write more about that at another time, when it’s not so late and I’m not so tired.

In any case, I sent City an email accepting the studentship. I have to confess that living in London still has strong appeal for me.

One more thing: I learned this week that starting this coming year the Northumbria studentships waive only the “home fees” part of the tuition — the amount of the tuition fees paid by UK and EU residents. This would mean that even if Northumbria gave me a studentship I’d have to make up the difference between that and international student tuition, which for 2012-2013 is £6700 (and will probably only increase). City’s tuition fee waiver is for the full amount. So getting studentships from both places would put them at par, financially, because the extra tuition I’d have to pay Northumbria would roughly cancel out the lower cost of living in Newcastle.


Studentship offer!

This morning I received an email from City University, offering me a studentship. I hadn’t expected to hear from them for another 2-3 weeks, but…

Our procedures allow us to fast-track top quality candidates to offer studentships to those with particularly strong proposals and backgrounds who we feel would make an excellent contribution to the University and this has been applied in your case.


The downside is that I have to reply by this coming Monday (April 16), which is at least a month sooner than I expected. That’s even before my application to Northumbria is due (although methinks this means I should aim to get that in beforehand).

I truly don’t know what to do. But I feel great knowing what a compliment this is and knowing that I will be funded for my PhD.

Ready to resume the other application

I made some changes in my draft proposal to Northumbria and sent it off for review by my tentative supervisor. He returns this Monday from three weeks’ paternity leave, and I’m ready to get this thing moving!

That “very interesting message” I mentioned in my last post essentially conveyed the news that Northumbria will offer additional funded PhDs beyond the four that are currently showing on the site — up to eight per School (for me that would be the Design School) — so there *is* a chance for me in that regard. Unfortunately, I won’t have their decision until late June, and I was hoping to have applied for my student visa by then.

Patience and persistence are the words of the day.

First application submitted!

Well, I got my application and research proposal to City University submitted, just inside the deadline. We had some technical difficulties involving a full email inbox on their end and Dropbox difficulties (Dropbox was necessary because the scans of my transcripts add up to 110MB), but everything finally got resolved in time, and I’m all set. I got up at 5am today, though, to be able to help if the difficulties hadn’t been resolved by then. Time zones can be a bear. :)

I had to take more time than I expected on the application form itself, because I was urged to emphasize my professional activities, such as those with the CHI conferences (e.g., being Case Studies co-chair for CHI 2012), and make myself look impressive to the studentship committee. :)

I wish I had had another week — or even two more days — to prepare the research proposal. My biggest challenge was not in describing how my work was new but in expressing my ideas about how others could build on it. I’m OK with what I wrote but I would have liked to have had just a little more time.

I’m not worried about whether I’ll be accepted, really; it’s whether they’ll consider my research worthy of funding.

(And I still have my proposal and application to Northumbria to complete; that’ll happen sometime next month.)

Stay tuned.

Slowly but surely, the proposals emerge

I finished a draft of my proposal to Northumbria on Tuesday and sent it off to my potential supervisor. We had a wonderful Skype chat yesterday, in which he gave me feedback with comments and suggestions. He said that on the whole he thinks it’s very strong and he’s very excited about it. His comments were to the point and immensely helpful. I love that place.

There’s one thing, however. I have learned that there is NO possibility for me to get university funding from Northumbria. <sad face> This means that I will apply to City as well, after all, given that the deadline is March 9 rather than the end of January as I had thought and that they are offering far more graduate studentships for people starting in 2012. However, I won’t have time to get any feedback from the department, I don’t think — unless I can finish it by the end of the weekend. City limits proposals to three pages, AND they require a comment on why I want to study my proposed topic and what I would bring to the research. THAT is a real challenge! (Northumbria’s “4 to 6 pages” suits me perfectly.)

A friend has mentioned a couple of other funding opportunities to me, though, and I’m going to follow them up (after he emails me with info on where to look.)

Well, making this post any longer isn’t getting my proposals written. Later!

Looking into alternatives for funding

It’s probably not worthwhile to reconsider at this point, especially because of the appeal of Northumbria’s program. Besides, a funded program at City would probably cost me about the same as an unfunded program at Northumbria, given the difference in the cost of living.

I have an appointment at the Social Security office tomorrow to talk about getting widow’s benefits from my late husband’s account, which I will qualify to start drawing about the same time as the beginning of the semester. I can find out my own benefits via, but not my benefits from Antonio’s earnings. I have an idea how much it would be (not enough to live on but more than enough to cover the rent), but I need to get the details. It looks as if they’ll let me go ahead and apply for it even though the benefit won’t start for several months. It would be good to have that out of the way — one less uncertainty in the pot.

There may also be some opportunities for doing work. Any work I do over that earns me more than about $14K would decrease my SS benefit, of course, but that’s OK.

What is it they say about expectations, again?

Just found out that the Design School at Northumbria won’t be offering studentships for the next academic year.  This may mean putting City back into the equation, but the difference in the cost of living between London and Newcastle would probably make not-funded Northumbria cost me about the same as a funded City.


Of work and funding: Considering the factors

One major factor that will go into my decision of where to apply — although not the biggest factor — is the availability of funding and its potential to cover my costs. Funding can come in two forms: funding related to the program itself (mostly to conduct research, I think), and consulting work in my spare time (however much or little of that there may be). I’m pretty sure that consulting work would pay better per hour than conducting research, but (a) I’d have to do it in my spare time, and (b) it would take additional time by means of requiring me to go elsewhere besides the university. And then there’s the matter of (c): In the case of Northumbria, consulting work will almost certainly be much more difficult to find in Newcastle than in London.

I’ve now had final confirmation of campus visits from three of the four universities that are on my calendar.