New Masters bursary awards from Eaga Charitable Trust

The Trustees of Eaga Charitable Trust encourage Masters students to write dissertations relating to fuel poverty issues. This is an area that provides research opportunities for new students that stretch as far as climate change, environmental justice, and visionary solutions to housing challenges and there is a huge knowledge bank of world expertise available in the way of supervisors. Each year bursaries are available to UK and EU MSc/MA students who are proposing to write a dissertation on a topic linked to fuel poverty within the UK or other EU countries. The Trust has recently awarded two bursaries to students at the University of Surrey and Bangor University who are undertaking Masters research into issues related to tackling fuel poverty:

The challenges of local authorities’ multi-agency approach to identifying the fuel poor living in private rented accommodation – a case study of Portsmouth City Council 

Grant Holder: Masters student: Katherine Shadwell. Supervised by Professor Matt Leach, Professor of Energy and Environmental Systems, University of Sussex
Main Contact : Dr Jonathan Chenoweth, M.Sc. Programme Director, Centre for Environmental Strategy
Email: j.chenoweth@surrey.ac.uk

Summary

To combat the rise in fuel poverty, especially within the private rental sector, many local authorities have recently been implementing a multi-agency approach to identifying the fuel poor in local authority housing, private rental and owned accommodation.  However, the complexity and challenges of this approach are yet to be evaluated in detail. This research will analyse the implementation of Portsmouth City Council’s multi-agency approach and examine if intervention from front-line local government staff can really make a difference in identifying the fuel poor and if any improvements to this multi-agency approach can be identified.


Do Community Energy Services Companies (CESCOs) reduce fuel poverty?

Grant Holder: Jane Kelly. Supervised by Dr Paula Roberts, Lecturer in Environmental Management, Bangor University
Main Contact : Dr Paula Roberts
Email: p.roberts@bangor.ac.uk

Summary

Energy Local and Ynni Ogwen have recently started the first UK pilot of a Community Energy Services Company (CESCO) aimed directly at using local renewable energy to supply local households in fuel poverty in Bethesda, Gwynedd. The project aims to benefit both the generator of renewable energy and the user of energy by closing the gap between the price received per unit generated and that paid by householders. This research aims to understand the motives for joining and their responses to cheaper energy supply and suggest ways of improving the educational components of the project.

 


Masters bursary students’ testimonials

Below are three testimonials from earlier recipients of Eaga-CT Masters bursaries, in which the students describe their motivation for undertaking Masters research into fuel poverty and the ways in which the bursary awards helped them and their research. Further information on the bursary award scheme can be found here.

Andreas Schneller, London School of Economics and Political Science – 2014 bursary recipient    

My motivation to undertake research on fuel poverty can be explained by the fact that I am concerned about both persisting social inequalities and continuing environmental degradation on a global scale. Fuel poverty as a social phenomenon which exemplifies the difficulties that policy makers face in integrating social and environmental policy objectives was therefore an ideal subject of inquiry for my research. Synergies between these two policy areas can become feasible and offer a win-win scenario by creating lower energy bills and reduced emissions.

The generous MSc dissertation bursary of the Eaga Charitable Trust contributed greatly to the depth and scope of my study. Since my research focused on a cross-national comparative analysis it was essential for me to gather information and meet experts on the spot. The bursary enabled me to cover travel costs and get access to resources which had a great impact on my ability to carry out an excellent thesis. The bursary also gave me the opportunity to concentrate entirely on my research and facilitated my enthusiasm about a future career as a university lecturer.

Danielle Butler, University of Salford – 2014 bursary recipient  

I was first made aware of the Eaga Charitable Trust and the bursaries offered to Masters students by my supervisors, who signposted me to the website. Requiring a short statement which detailed the background of the proposed study, along with research aims and the intended research strategy, I found the process of submitting the application itself to be particularly valuable. Specifically, it encouraged me to think in a clear and concise manner about what I actually planned to do and how I planned to go about it. What’s more, with the application needing a supporting statement from my supervisor, this meant it proved to be a really useful resource during early supervision meetings.

Undoubtedly, one of the greatest benefits of the bursary was the added financial security it provided. With this, I felt as though I gained some much needed time and space to devote my attention towards my research. Additional to this, however, an unexpected benefit came in the form of thoughtful and relevant feedback given by the board of trustees who had considered my application. Rather than simply notifying me that I had been successful, comments were offered that prompted some key research considerations and, again, useful supervision discussions.

Since sending the application, a little more than a year ago, I feel that my understanding of and interest in the field has grown substantially. So much so, that I decided during my master’s degree that I wanted to continue with postgraduate study, pursuing PhD opportunites in fuel poverty research. At the end of last year, I began a fully-funded PhD with the Sustainable Housing & Urban Studies Unit at the University of Salford, in which my research aims to examine the role of intermediaries, such as third-sector organisations, in the context of urban fuel poverty. Again bridging aspects of professional experience to my academic goals. Even though my Master’s degree is now completed, I remain in contact with Eaga Charitable Trust and believe that those at the Trust will continue to be an excellent source of support and advice in my future as a fuel poverty researcher.

Dr Harriet Thomson, University of York – 2011 bursary recipient 

During my Undergraduate studies in Social Policy I was very interested in issues relating to housing and the environment, and how this affects marginalised groups. My specific interest in fuel poverty emerged after a summer internship with an energy service company that coordinated practical fuel poverty alleviation schemes. I decided to further explore fuel poverty from a research perspective as part of a Masters of Research degree. I received an Eaga Charitable Trust Masters bursary in 2011 for a dissertation project that explored how fuel poverty is conceptualised across the European Union, and what levels of fuel poverty exist.

As a recipient of the Master’s bursary, I definitely recommend applying. Aside from the obvious financial benefit, which was helpful as I was self-funding my Masters, I found it incredibly useful to have my research proposal and subsequent dissertation reviewed by the Eaga trustees, who are all experts in the field. Furthermore, the bursary scheme gave me experience of grant writing, and after receiving the bursary it allowed me to demonstrate on my CV an ability to attract research funding.

Since receiving the Eaga-CT Masters bursary, I have completed a PhD, which expanded on my Masters research, and I now have a postdoctoral research job that explores fuel poverty in Eastern and Central Europe. Along the way, I have also had some success in gaining further grant funding from Eaga Charitable Trust and other funders.