By Thomas Dowling
Moths in your wallet where your crisp ATM dispensed notes used to be? Well perhaps that’s about to change with George Osborne’s new £10,000 loan proposal for prospective postgrads—rich in ambition but poor in coin.
It’s inescapable: degrees are expensive, especially beyond the undergraduate when the government’s incentives dry up. But that doesn’t have to dishearten you: a revolution is coming, some commentators believe.
The Chancellor, Osborne, envisions a graduate populace that is educated to postgrad level and able to compete with the international world across the board, irrespective of economic means. That’s where the loan comes in.
Geared towards the financially challenged, the new loan means that the prospect of going on to masters isn’t so daunting: £10,000 from the Treasury means many students wont have to take out that second credit card, live in their overdraft, or have to battle to find a part-time job that detracts from the goal of a postgrad course—a giddy thought that takes half of the stress out of further education.
There are caveats, however. While the loan is offered for any masters course, it will only become available in 2016-17, and only for those on the young side of 30. This loan will be repaid in conjunction with the undergrad, and may have a higher rate of interest. Many details are yet to be clarified.
Despite this small print, Osborne’s proposal will be of interest to legions of students. With a marketplace saturated with other undergraduate awardees, both employer and perspective employee increasingly desire a postgraduate degree. But the financial means has escaped many, trapped in an ocean of other little fish.
The loan would allow poorer students to enrich their CVs not just for ultra-competitive graduate jobs, but also for those posts that insist on a masters as an employment perquisite (like some government positions or teaching English in Saudi Arabia).
The Chancellor’s proposal should be welcomed by a new generation of postgrad wannabes—perhaps as many as 40,000 will benefit—particularly given the chronic underfunding of further study over the last decade.
But who will qualify for the loans? Working-class families eager to give their children chances they didn’t, or middle class students hamstrung by austerity and government squeezing? Will this money go where it’s most needed? And why only those under 30? Surely this age group with families and mortgages need financial help to improve, retrain, and remain competitive too.
While this is a positive step for a coalition government that u-turned on its tuition fees promise, will the next government honour this pledge? Through the cynic’s prism, does this proposal not just attract lost, disenfranchised university voters that as freshers felt betrayed, but who now as twenty-something year old veterans of education might be won back to university and the ballot?
Find out more about postgraduate funding.