Postgrad Queries: Are there grants for mature students with a Masters? Can I get equal rights work?

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Q. How do you become a university teacher? I have a Masters degree in media studies, and have 10 years' experience in journalism. Having reached my mid thirties, I'd like to move into university teaching.

A. There are several ways of breaking into teaching in higher education (HE), and the popularity of media studies and your lengthy experience in the field should mean that opportunities are available. If you intend to continue practising journalism on a freelance basis, that would further enhance your credibility.

Your background, and your MA, means you may not need any teaching qualifications to secure a job, although most university departments would require you to do an in-house or short external course to introduce you to some broad principles of the teaching process. Initially, I suggest you do some background research into the university employment sector, by looking at the education press, and at www.jobs.ac.uk, which is a major source of job vacancies in HE. Full-time, permanent lecturing posts are hotly contested and it may be that you might first consider sessional or associate lecturer posts. These are part-time and temporary, but are a good way of breaking into the field. Some teachers combine several such jobs across a number of colleges.

Q. I want a sharp change of direction. Not long ago, I got a Masters degree in creative writing, but I now wish I'd gone into nutrition. As I'm still trying to pay off my student loan, I'm keen not to incur any further debt. What grants are available for mature students who already have a Masters?

The blunt message is that public or academic funding is very restricted for a Masters level of study, and likely to remain so in the current financial climate. So, if you are dead set on pursuing the nutrition route, you'll probably have to do what large numbers of postgrad students do: namely study part-time, and pay for it by working.

However, it can't do any harm to explore the funding options. These include the seven UK research councils ( www.rcuk.ac.uk), which give out Masters funding each year, and individual university departments, which have a limited number of awards and scholarships, detailed in individual prospectuses and offered on a competitive basis to postgraduate students. Beyond this, the FunderFinder website ( www.funderfinder.org.uk) helps individuals isolate relevant scholarships and small pots of money from different sources.

It is available through subscription or via a number of libraries and career centres. If you get over the funding hurdle, you'll find postgraduate nutrition programmes in the UK at both diploma and Masters level, and a smaller number of dietetics courses. Most require a first degree in a science discipline. There are also some private certificate and diploma courses which look at aspects of nutrition and nutritional therapy: the pre-entry qualifications for these may be slightly less rigid. Try www.nutritionsociety.org to start your research.

Q. I graduated last year in psychology, and want to move towards working in the area of equal rights, the law and the rights of others, including issues such as so-called honour killings. I hope to be starting some part-time work for the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) soon, but would also consider doing some postgraduate study in a relevant area. Any suggestions, please?

A. There are three possible routes. First, you could focus on academic research into the behavioural aspects of these issues, with a long-term view of lecturing or research, perhaps in the Civil Service. You'd need to start with a relevant Masters or PhD, for which you'd probably need a 2:1 or higher in your psychology degree.

Second, you could qualify as a lawyer and go on to specialise in human rights. Your route would be to become a solicitor or barrister and acquire the detailed knowledge for human rights by doing your professional training with a firm or chambers specialising in that area.

Third, you could follow a more general route of advice work, where you would need to know how to deal with a situation, but pass the client on to other sources of referral, rather than being expected to know the solution to each problem yourself. This would avoid the (costly) need to acquire more qualifications. Your imminent CAB work will give you an idea of what this work is like.

Thanks to Liz Hagger and Gill Sharp, careers consultants for Domino Careers (www.dominocareers.co.uk).

Send your queries to Steve McCormack at steve.mcc@virginmedia.com

Comments