Emily Bettison is studying the MA in Creative Industries and Cultural Policy at Birmingham City University

Initially when the news flashed up on my phone that the government were creating loans for postgraduate study – I was slightly annoyed, having  just started my self-funded MA this year.

I’m just finishing my first term and it has been a struggle trying to live on the small amount of money my parents give me (all of which I will have to pay back to them when I get a job).  In hindsight making the decision to continue my studies to MA level, knowing I would have no funding wasn’t an easy decision to make. A lot of my peers that were considering continuing in education were put off because they simply couldn’t afford to pay the tuition fees, let alone living costs on top of that.

It is encouraging that the government are recognising the need for Masters level qualifications in an ever increasingly harsh job market, with most people now getting a undergraduate degree qualification. Some people may argue that it will just get to the stage where everyone continues on to do a Masters degree, however I don’t think this would be the case. Most people on my undergraduate degree were excited about the prospect of getting a ‘real’ job. To have the right mind-set to continue onto Masters level is an attitude that should be encouraged and supported, something the government are now going to be doing.

Someone with a Master’s degree earns £5,500 more per year, or over £200,000 over a 40-year working life, than someone with just a degree (Sutton Trust, 2013).

I would however like to raise the fact that the loans are only for under 30’s, this is something that I view as slightly discriminative. Finishing an undergraduate degree at the age of 21 it is understandable that many people do not know what career path they wish to take. Many mature masters students have taken the time to work various jobs and find their passion, then wishing to return to education and gain an additional qualification, this being something that I feel should be celebrated. Masters degrees aren’t cheap and it is hard to work a full time job when you are studying one. I have been able to live in halls and only have to pay for myself, people over the age of 30 however often have to pay for mortgages and have other people depending on them, it could therefore be argued that they are in more need of help that others.

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