Research all the options

Postgraduate study could be a financially viable option if you plan it out properly, writes Russ Thorne

The funding challenges facing undergraduates need no
introduction, having marched across the front pages for the majority of 2011.
But keeping a lower profile is the cost of postgraduate study. It’s never been
a budget option, but students looking to continue on the academic path may worry
if the boost a Masters gives their CV is worth the dent it puts in their bank
balance.

However, there are ways to make it affordable. Although many universities are increasing their course fees across the board, others are taking a different approach. “We were one of the few who pitched at £6,800 for undergraduate tuition fees and we’ve extended the same principle to postgrad level,” explains Peter McCaffery, deputy vice-chancellor at the London Metropolitan University. “I do not understand how you can have a blanket fee for postgrad courses.”

He acknowledges there has been “hardly any discussion” about the cost of postgraduate courses, and that as a result funding became like “buying a rail ticket”. He says: “It was very confusing. So we simply have a pitched fee that we believe offers good value.”

This means fees for an addiction and mental health policy course are £5,400, a Masters in film production is £6,000, or £7,200 in accounting and finance.

These costs are based on how courses are structured and taught, and the facilities they require. McCaffery believes they compare favourably with undergraduate costs. “We try to treat everyone fairly, we haven’t plucked the figures out of the air,” he says. “The pitch is different depending on the students you’re looking at.”

Peter Allen, the marketing director at the University of Derby, agrees: “Our 2012 undergraduate fees reflect the true cost of delivering different types of courses – classroom, resource intensive and specialist. We’re taking the same approach for our postgraduate course provision, and our postgraduate students will know that they are paying a fair price.”

Allen also points out that part-time study and distance learning can help candidates manage their costs. “We’ve provided part-time and online study options with flexible payment plans for several years, and we intend to continue to provide them into 2012 and beyond.” Regardless of what or where candidates study, these options may allow greater flexibility for working while studying. Distance learning also has the advantage of reducing transport or even accommodation costs.

As well as shopping around for the best deal, there are other ways to ease the financial burden. Students who complete an undergraduate course may find their alma mater offers a reduction on a postgraduate degree – LSE, Manchester Metropolitan University and Edinburgh graduates can claim a discount of up to 10 per cent on their fees if they enrol on a programme at their former university.

Most universities also offer scholarships and bursaries, either across the board or in specific departments (the list on prospects.ac.uk is a good starting point), and occasionally there’s the option of external funding – Target Courses (targetcourses.co.uk) is currently running a competition to win a £2,000 bursary.

A lesser-used tactic is approaching trusts and charities. “They’re an underrated and little-known funding source with amazing flexibility,” explains Luke Blaxill, author of The Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding.

“Most have multiple deadlines throughout the year, and turn your application round quickly. They won’t pay for your course lock, stock, and barrel – but they can be an invaluable ally.” Blaxill speaks from experience; he raised £45,000 from 40 charities.

“There’ll certainly be at least one or two charities out there for you.”

Ultimately, there are no shortcuts, and it’s always going to involve serious financial investment to reap the career benefits. But this shouldn’t mean exorbitant costs, says McCaffery. Instead, he believes, universities should be looking to find more efficiencies within their own institutions.

“It’s not necessary to pay a high fee for postgraduate education. The more cynical capitalists will say it’s whatever the market will bear, but that’s not the business we’re in. Making postgraduate education affordable goes to the heart of our mission – it’s about broadening educational and professional opportunity for individuals and enabling them to gain a step-up.”

 

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

News
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Teacher

£80 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: KS1 & 2 Supply teachers ur...

Year 4 Teachers needed for day to day and long term

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

PPA Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past