Help Me I Am In PhD Funding Hell


Well, with seven weeks to go I have pretty much exhausted all attempts to find other sources of funding for my PhD in film which I am (still) hoping to start in October and am left with the dreaded CDL. Has anyone else found how hellish these are, from the differing information such as "make sure you apply more than three months before your course commences" on the booklet info to the "do not send your completed form in more than eight weeks before your course commence date" on the actual form. If this is really regarded as the way to fund post-grad study, then it is an utter disgrace. Does anyone, please, have any advice on how to fund what is, at the moment, just my first year of study (I'll worry about the next two when they come) as I am in the final stages of a slow-motion breakdown with all this. What an utter nightmare. Any advice graciously welcomed.


I don't think CDLs are really designed for PhD study at all but rather Masters / conversion courses. How are you going to manage to pay it back while continuing to study after the first year? You are not going to like this advice, but I really would defer your place until you have funding, or if you have a decently paying job enrol as a part-time student in the first instance and have a go at getting fulltime funding again next year. Given how bad the employment market is for humanities PhDs, I really would not want to get into lots of debt to do one. Self-funding is OK, if you have family / a partner who can (and is willing to) financially support you, but I would be wary of borrowing to self-fund.


I'm seriously having to consider the part-time option, though obviously would rather go full-time. I know what you mean, bewildered, about the danger of a CDL just to initially start-up my PhD, so am attempting to keep the amount I would borrow as low as possible (fees only, basically, plus a bit to help me over the initial beginning until I get part-time work) but it's all very risky. It's also somewhat galling, regarding CDLs, that one will almost certainly be turned down to one due to, say, a late paid electricity bill five years ago and that the two banks who administer and decide on the loans are Barclays and the Co-Op, neither of whom are in good credit positions themselves! What a horrendous system. I've already deferred from last year, so this is the last chance saloon. Looks like I'm going to be turning myself into a charity case if I want to go full-time.


hi eraser,

I'm in the same position and have decided to go part time for the first year (or as long as I can't get funding). There seem to be so many financial advantages, not least the fact that you can do internships while studying, and you can work so you won't need a CDL at all.

It also helps that one of my friends did their PhD part time and submitted in 4 1/2 years while working full time and just doing a couple of hours study in the evening every day. It can be done!


I would second the reservations above about self funding your PhD. Due to the structural problems in academia that you will see after you graduate, as well as the punishing repayment schedules that come from paying back your CDL once your period of grace is up, its a really bad idea to go down this route.

Basically it boils down to don't begin a PhD if you have not been offered funding, because it disadvantages you in so many obvious but also subtle ways.

See Reason 1 here for why this may be:


I'm afraid to say I'm with Badhaircut and Bewildered. If you're willing to take out a CDL because you think the PhD will be an investment in your career...well I'm afraid to say that in the current academic job market the investment isn't worth the money you would spend as a self funder. It's certainly not worth getting into substantial debt over.

Go the part time route, see what other funding you can secure, and in the long term make you career plan has a plan B and plan C should it turn out that the PhD offers you no additional benefit with respect to employment prospects.


Thanks for all your messages and advice. It really does feel like staring down the barrel of a gun just now. I think I'll have to seriously consider the part-time route and will get in touch with my chosen university shortly regarding this. I just hope they don't tell me it's too late to choose to go part-time now, with only a month and a half before I am due to start! I can safely say that trying to raise money to do a full-time PhD has been ridiculously stressful.