This news has been received enthusiastically by the NUS, with the vice president, Megan Dunn calling it a major step in the right direction. With so much worry about debt, and the tendency for students to rely on credit cards and overdrafts, this move will hopefully make postgraduate study more accessible.
Of course, it’s still debt of some kind, and there are some concerns that this shouldn’t be treated as an end goal – just a first step. Sally Hunt, leader of UCU, has expressed concerns about students building up more debt, and Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute comments that the age limit may be frustrating and limiting. He also noted that the repayment terms have yet to be revealed.
There are a huge number of advantages to postgraduate study – both to the economy and to individuals – and opening up access to the courses will give a huge boost to both. The lack of subject restriction means students with more niche subjects struggling to find grants will finally have an alternative option.
But is it worth holding out until 2016 to do a postgraduate degree and take advantage of this? If you have alternative sources of funding – savings, a relative, etc – then probably not. Although it’s a student loan similar to undergraduate loans, it is still a loan meaning that if you can pay for your degree without getting further into debt, you probably should. But what if you don’t have an alternate source of funding, and you’ve been applying desperately to charities, grant bodies and every source of funding you can find? Maybe it is worth taking a gap year and applying for this when it comes up. It’ll be one less source of stress, plus taking a gap year has a whole bunch of benefits too.
Useful Links UK Living Costs
Student Funding Guide
The Lowdown on Career Development Loans for Postgrads