The following is an excerpt of an article by Billy Thompson for our Views on the Left section. This features in our fourth print issue, available NOW.

Find out how to get your own copy of the issue here.

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Like a lot of undergraduates who want to continue studying the subject they love, last year I considered doing a masters course. I assumed the system would remain the same in terms of the funding that we have at an undergraduate level. However, I found it to be more draconian than what we often perceive its undergraduate counterpart to be.

It punishes students that cannot afford to advance their education studies, places the entire financial burden on you upfront and offers loans that often fall short. Upon hearing of this backwards system, I felt compelled to write this article to offer my own solutions based on other areas of public policy.

The postgraduate loan system is not something usually covered by media and politicians. Politicians who focus on and chastise undergraduate tuition fees are ultimately missing the point – whether you eventually start repaying your tuition fee at £3000 or £6000, it makes absolutely no difference to a students’ ability to afford their next meal tomorrow. The problem is one of maintenance, and this is something that postgraduate students who, unlike undergraduates, face disproportionately.

Postgraduates do not have their tuition fees paid for directly by the SLC (Student Loans Company). Instead, postgraduates get paid a lump sum of £10,906, which they must then divvy up to pay for their course fees and living costs. The problem, however, is that fees vary for different courses.

So, for instance, an MSc in Health Care Policy and Management at the University of Birmingham will cost £11,520 in tuition fees for the one-year course. A student entering this course has to make up £614 that the postgraduate loan fails to cover.

It only gets worse. Unlike the undergraduate system, no separate maintenance loan can be received from SLC. As a result, the student has to completely fund their living costs out of their own money, which is especially tricky for those coming from low-income backgrounds given that they cannot just rely on family.

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Read the rest of this article in the print issue, information on which can be found HERE.

Photo by sw77 on Flickr.