Funding success for part-time MSc student

Part-time student Lauren successfully used the Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding and received generous funding from seven different sources to cover her tuition fees, childcare and travel costs.

Woman wearing a light blue jacket smiles into the camera

With a BSc in Mathematics and Statistics, she now studies MSc Operational Research and Applied Statistics. Here she shares how she went about securing the funding and her experiences as a postgraduate student.

Can you tell us a little bit about the course in your own words?

The course provides students with the theoretical and practical experience to become confident statistical analysts. There is a lot of emphasis on working on real-world problems.

A main feature of the course is the project dissertation where each student works with an external company on a problem of particular importance and many of the modules are taught with input from external experts. The course aims to enable students to transfer the more theoretical skills they have learned into the world of business.

What were your motivations for undertaking a postgraduate degree?

Roedd y Canllaw Saesneg, 'The Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding' yn werthfawr iawn. Roedd yna ddigonedd o gyngor ac enghreifftiau o ddatganiadau personol a chyfriflenni ariannol sydd eu hangen gan y rhan fwyaf o ymddiriedolaethau. Ni fyddwn wedi bod mor llwyddiannus yn ennill arian os na fyddwn wedi defnyddio'r canllaw hwn."

Lauren, myfyriwr rhan amser MSc, Ysgol Mathemateg

I have taken this course as I felt that after my undergraduate degree I lacked enough practical experience in dealing with statistical problems.

I felt that this course would give me a good grounding in applying the statistical methods to real world situations, and that this would be invaluable when looking for employment.

Why did you decide to do your postgraduate degree at Cardiff?

I live in Cardiff and once I finished my undergraduate degree began looking into potential postgraduate courses. As I have a young family who I could not uproot, I was restricted to looking at local or distance learning courses. Of the local Universities, Cardiff was my first choice because of its reputation. Luckily the course that was offered was ideal, and I didn't have to look any further!

What do you think of Cardiff as a place to live as a postgraduate?

I am Cardiff born and bred. I love the city for many reasons, but for students I think that it has a lot to offer. You get all the benefits of living in a Capital City but because it's not too big there is still a good community feel. The residents are nice and friendly and there's plenty of stuff to do in Cardiff itself, but also the beautiful Brecon Beacons and the Gower Peninsula are just a short drive away if you fancy an escape.

How do you think your postgraduate course will contribute to your future career plans?

The fact that we have to complete a project dissertation with an external company means that before this course is finished, I will have already made links with industry. I am hoping to find work at the Office of National Statistics or the Welsh Assembly Government on completion of the Master's and as one of the modules is taught with input from these two organisations I will be able to get a good insight into the kind of work that I would be doing.

How did you go about finding funding for your course?

I essentially just followed the advice given in the Alternative Guide to Postgrad Funding. There are a large number of potential organisations listed in there, but I also I searched the internet and checked in The Grants Register. Initially I wrote enquiry letters to about 25 different organisations to check my eligibility for their grants. Some did not reply; some I was not eligible for; some I had already missed the deadlines. In the end I applied for ten different grants/scholarships.

How useful was the Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding?

Invaluable. It is packed full of advice, with examples of personal statements and financial statements which are required by most Trusts. I would not have been so successful in gaining funding if I had not used this guide.

I received a total of £11,080 from seven different trusts.

What did the funding mean to you?

The bulk of the money is being used to pay for childcare for my youngest and have even been able to pay for extra childcare as it has become apparent that I need more time to study. My travel costs have been covered, as well as my course fees. Without these grants I would have gotten into debt to pay for the course and struggled with childcare. I feel confident as a result of the funding that I can finish the course successfully and to the best of my abilities.

Do you have any tips or advice for other students looking to secure funding?

Use the Alternative Guide to Postgrad Funding. Write a good personal statement, and use anything that makes you stand out from other candidates to your advantage. The fact that I am a mum and a carer made the difference for me.