Welsh students starting a postgraduate course this August can benefit from financial support of up to £17,000 towards their studies and living costs, thanks to a new, enhanced package of financial support from the Welsh Government.
The support available to those starting a postgraduate Master’s course has gone up from £13,000 in 2018/19, making it the most generous postgraduate student finance package in the UK.
The new package is being launched through an awareness campaign to promote the benefits of going to university with the help of more financial support available. The campaign features a Money Monster - a personification of money. The character's sole purpose is to stop students getting to university, and if they do, he is there to disrupt their student life adding unnecessary pressure. The Money Monster campaign features TV, radio, outdoor and digital advertising, as well as PR and social media elements.
The finance is a mixture of loans and grants and applies to full-time or part-time Welsh students on courses anywhere in the UK.
All eligible students will receive a non-repayable universal grant of £1,000, plus a means-tested grant of up to £5,885 for students with a household income of up to £18,370. A loan will also be available, taking the total support up to £17,000.
Part-time students will be entitled to the equivalent support pro-rata. For example, support of £17,000 is available for courses lasting one year, £8,500 each year for two year courses and £4,250 a year for four year courses. Payments are received in three instalments at the start of each term.
Repayments are only made once the student has finished or left their course and is earning over £21,000.
Extra financial support is also available for students with a disability or learning difficulty or those with a long-term health condition.
The support package is the Welsh Government’s response to a higher education funding review led by Professor Sir Ian Diamond. In 2018, a new financial package was rolled out for undergraduates. From 2019 an enhanced package is available for postgraduates, to ensure a fair and equitable package of support for students at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.
According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the number of students studying postgraduate courses (https://www.hesa.ac.uk/news/17-01-2019/sb252-higher-education-student-statistics/numbers) in Wales went up from 24,365 in 2016/17 to 25,205 in 2017/18. Around two in five postgraduates studied part-time, compared to one in five undergraduates.
Minister for Education, Kirsty Williams, said:
“There are many reasons to study a Master’s degree - to change career, increase your earning potential or simply because you have a passion for learning.
“Postgraduate qualifications also play an important role in our economy, supplying talented researchers who become world-leading experts in their field and provide the innovation needed to create high-end jobs.
“We also know money is often the biggest barrier when choosing whether to go to university. Our new financial package will make it easier for everyone, no matter what their background or income, to follow their aspirations and study at postgraduate level.”
Megan Wiltshire, 21, from Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan, initially thought she couldn’t afford the cost of a Master’s degree but after spotting the perfect course decided to assess the financial options available to her.
“I was in the final year of my undergraduate degree in Media and Communications at Cardiff University. I was planning to graduate and get a job. I hadn’t considered doing a Master’s degree because I didn’t think I’d be able to afford it and so it was out of my reach.
“I found out there was a postgraduate loan of £13,000 to cover course fees and living costs. With that, plus my income from working part-time, plus careful budgeting, I decided I could afford to do the Master’s degree.”
Megan started her Master’s degree in September 2018 and will graduate later this year. She plans to pursue a career in social media and digital marketing.
Megan says: “The postgraduate student loan meant I could afford to do my Master’s degree. The fact that there’s now increased financial help for new students, including a grant, is even better.
“The cost of postgraduate study seems daunting at first but it’s worth it in the long run. You only pay it back when you’re earning above £21,000 and you pay it back in instalments. I’ve benefitted so much from my studies and I’ve learned to budget.
“I would say make sure you research your Master’s course to make sure it’s the right one for you because of the cost. If you feel like it’s an investment in yourself then it’s 100 per cent worth it.”
For more information, visit www.gov.wales/studentmoney