£10,000 postgraduate loans scheme is a game changer
In autumn 2017, the Scottish Government introduced new funding opportunities that are making it possible for more people to study postgraduate degrees.
For many, the financial commitment associated with postgraduate study - including the cost of course fees and general living expenses - can be a barrier that prevents people pursing their educational and career ambitions.
When the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) announced its plans to offer a new package of financial support for those wishing to pursue postgraduate study, a door opened to many which would have otherwise been closed.
The new (SAAS) Postgraduate Loan scheme means that eligible students can now benefit from a maximum combined tuition fee and living cost support loan of £10,000. This maximum loan is available for Scottish domiciled students who are embarking on their first master’s or postgraduate diploma course and who will be studying on a full-time basis. However, eligible students who wish to study part-time can access the tuition fee loan (but not the living cost support).
Bill Stronach, Student Funding Adviser at QMU, said: “This is a great opportunity for people who are currently studying at undergraduate level at QMU who wish to progress to postgraduate study, as well as people who have been out of education for several years and want to use further study to help them change direction or specialise.”
He continued: “Giving up a job and a salary to commit to postgraduate study is a significant undertaking. This new loan scheme is a game changer. It provides people with some financial security when changing direction and progressing their areas of interest. Ultimately, it can mean the difference between being stuck at the same level or in the same job and having the chance to use postgraduate study to realise career ambitions.”
Debbie Ryan, aged 37, is studying MA Arts Festival & Cultural Management Programme at QMU, and is one of the first students to benefit from the loans scheme. Having initially completed a fine arts degree, Debbie had several jobs before embarking on the master's programme, including Artist Educator at the Tate Gallery in Liverpool and helping run an arts shop at Edinburgh Art College. More recently, her main activities are connected to her self employment work as a community arts freelancer and mosaic artist.
Discussing the benefits of the SAAS PG Loan, Debbie explained: “The loan scheme has given me the opportunity to study on a full-time basis rather than part-time. Accessing the living costs loan has allowed me to reduce my hours in work and allocate more time for my studies. I can really focus on university and have more time to consider the course content and undertake research that is relevant to my work as an arts freelancer.
“I’m really enjoying the course. Studying full-time seems to make the course feel less stressful and rushed as I’m not having the challenge of juggling lots of work commitments with study.
“Importantly, the full-time option will allow me to complete the Master's in one year rather than two. This means my freelance work is on hold for a shorter duration.”
Discussing life after course completion, Debbie said: “I’m planning to set up my own business which integrates the elements of my arts management studies. The skills and knowledge I’ve learned on my course will help me make improvements to the way I conduct project evaluation, marketing and project management. The course has helped me question things more, such as considering objectives or assumptions made by myself or others. However, I hope to continue researching and learning as my work progresses.
Debbie concluded: “I feel like my course is just the beginning of a life-long learning curve.”
Key Facts about (SAAS) Postgraduate Loans
Eligible courses would receive the following:
- One year taught postgraduate diploma and master’s courses a tuition fee loan of £5,500 and living cost loan of £4,500
- Two year part-time postgraduate diploma and master’s courses a tuition fee loan of £2,750 per year.
- Two year full-time master’s courses a tuition fee loan of £2,750 per year and a living cost loan of £2,250 per year.
- Three year part-time master’s courses a tuition fee loan of £1,833 in years one & two with £1,834 in year 3.
Students from the EU will be able to access the tuition fee loan.
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