AN MBA doesn't come cheap - especially if your employer won't contribute.

Fees can range from pounds 6,000 to pounds 18,500, and there's accommodation costs and, if you're full-time, loss of earnings. Unfortunately scholarships are rare and they are usually confined to full-time students.

So what are your options? If you don't have substantial savings, you could apply for a career development loan from the Clydesdale Bank, Barclays, the Bank of Scotland, or the Co-operative Bank. You can borrow up to 80 per cent of your course fees to a limit of pounds 8,000, plus the cost of books and other course expenses.

However, the Association of MBAs Business School Loan Scheme is likely to be more cost-effective. Operated through NatWest Bank, you can borrow up to two-thirds of your pre-course salary, plus tuition fees. To qualify you must be over 18, a permanent UK resident, have a place on an accredited MBA programme, and have five years' practical work experience, or two years if you are a graduate.

For full written details and an application form, call NatWest Information Line on 0800 200400.