Poverty for Postgrads Blog Discussion

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  • surfcat
    surfcat Posts: 734 Forumite
    Martin cites the example of a lawyer in postgrad poverty, which I don't really have much sympathy for. Undergraduate law courses are already very popular (one of the most popular degress), and many in the popular and not-so-popular press would argue that as a country we already have too many lawyers (and others like accountants etc). Law is essentially a highly paid service industry, and if you're any good at it you will take your undergrad law degree (or history degree etc) to a law firm who will then sponsor you through to getting the practising qualifications. The tax payer should not be funding people to go out and make large amounts of money for themselves, in most cases in commercial law which has no bearing on quality of life for the ordinary citizen. (Of course there are lawyers who provide valuable representation in cases of criminal, family law).

    Similarly in the arts. Why should the taxpayer fund a Masters in Music or Fine art, [it] en masse[/it]?

    Postgraduate funding should be given for those (sadly dwindling) areas in scientific research, medical research and engineering which are essential for development of the country, the economy, and the planet.

    Where taxes should be used are in
  • pug_in_a_bed
    pug_in_a_bed Posts: 1,975 Forumite
    I am coming to the end of a masters degree in literature (as you can see from my signature!). I took a year out after my undergrad, and at first was not planning to continue study.

    As it was, one horrendous thing led to another, I could not got a job and am now bankrupt. I was working three part time jobs to make up a full time wage. I then decided to return to university, I was incredibly lucky in being able to get a scholarship to pay the costs (£3000) of postgrad study.

    I have worked like a demon as well as studying full time, and i sincerely hope my MA is going to set me in better stead for a career. I have loved it and found it a very different and more open experience to a degree. Many people move into postgrad study out of a love for their subject as well as a career move.

    There are specific boards (the Arts and Humanities board, and a science one whose name escapes me) to whom students can apply for funding when they are studying phd or a, normally, research master degrees (ie. untaught). Funding is limited but if you can get it, its often upto £15, 000 a year, out of which your fees are paid, but you are in effect paid a kind of wage to support yourslef whilst studying. Only the cream of the crop can get these; you have to have an excelent acadmemic record and often a great research proposal. I have to do incredibly well in this course if I want to move up into phd. If i don't do really really well (please God) I won't get any funding at all, and my particular phd study area woul be another £4000 for another 4 years. I'm certainly not looking into getting into any more debt!

    The univerisites are a bit cruel in my opinion, as they hide their scholarships and bursaries for people to root out - but they are there.
    I know this is to stop a huge influx of applicants but univeristy and postgrad study in particular, is still a rich person's game in my opinion!

    My studies may not seem particularly useful but I do love my subject and I've struggled to get as far as I have done.

    Its a toughy:)
  • sockospice
    I'm lucky, as the government have decided that because of shortages of social workers, postgrad social work students get their fees paid, and a bursary (UG sw students get a similar deal)

    Still be working part time though, as the mortgage and bills still have to be paid!
  • MSE_Martin
    MSE_Martin Posts: 8,272 Money Saving Expert
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Hi - let me just clarify something. When I talk about funding - i don't specifically mean 'grants'. Actually it is the ability to fund yourself with some vehicle. I accept the need to borrow - but often the cheap availabilty of loans which undergrads have simply isn't there for postgrads

    Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
    Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.
    Don't miss out on urgent MoneySaving, get my weekly e-mail at www.moneysavingexpert.com/tips.
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  • surfcat
    surfcat Posts: 734 Forumite
    That's an interesting idea actually. 'Essential' postgrad study could continue to be funded by grants whilst 'non-essential' could see an extension of the student loan scheme.
  • reen_3
    reen_3 Posts: 81 Forumite
    i'm going to put in my two cents. this is a topic that i near and dear to my heart.

    why can't all the people complaining about lack of money get jobs? or, perhaps, cut their expenses? oh, god forbid, do both? i've just finished a £10k/year (overseas fees), three-year degree with no debt to my name. i'm about to do another year (at the cost of almost £9k) to get my MSc. if all goes well, i will have no debt then, either. no uni loans, no overdraft, no credit card debt. i did this by working 40-50 hrs per week at the same time as doing the degree. i can't say that it was easy, but if someone as lazy as i am can do it, then why can't other people? it's not the ideal situation, of course, but 4 years' of hard work sure beats having to file for bankruptcy before i'm 30.
  • surfcat
    surfcat Posts: 734 Forumite
    reen wrote:
    4 years' of hard work sure beats having to file for bankruptcy before i'm 30.

    In the UK, bankruptcy no longer wipes out debt to the student loan company.
  • pug_in_a_bed
    pug_in_a_bed Posts: 1,975 Forumite

    You've done ever so well, and I'm sure you'll continue to do so in the future - keep up the good work. Not everyone can avoid circumstances which may make them unable to work, or save money to pay for their studies and so on. I think that with the high numbers of people attending univeristy and getting a degree, its getting harder to get the kind of 'good' job once guaranteed by a degree - so more people are turning to postgraduate study to help them stand out from the crowd, so to speak. The need for funding needs to be addressed in this circumstance.

    My bankruptcy was unrelated to my degree as such, circumstances outside of university exacerrbated the problems I was having which eventually resulted in my having to go bankrupt (before 25).

    I have well and truly learned my lesson (please see my post here ):o

    I funded my MA luckily with a scholarship and by working and working and working right the way through,trust me working almost full time and studying full time has taken years off my life!

    I am working hard now (apart from when i'm on MSE lol!) to write my thesis in the hope of a good result which will enable me to apply for funding for a PhD.

    Surfcat, I agree with your post about 'essential' study being funded in some way.
  • David_Brent
    I personally find the career development loan a bit of a joke, and they look pretty dangerous, especially once you finish your course yor expected to be payng it back straight away more or less even if you haven't found a job! I have just graduated in July and have been looking at the Masters degree but decided not to take it up, becasue of the amount of debt I will be left with. Its a real shame that there isn't more investment for postgraduates, I think that more businesses etc should offer more support through postgraduate courses to better there employees, although there are some that do, there are not enough companies offering this. Also I don't really understand why a masters degree is generally more expensive in fee's compared to a undergraduate degree? They are usually about 3k on top or more?!! Maybe banks should be more helpfull to postgraduates in terms of offering loans at a low interest rate to help further study. There is a real gap in this area and its a shame people wanting to educate themselves further can't because of poor funding (like the career development loan), over priced course fee's from universities, and lack of support from businesses to help finance you through your studies as an employee.
  • pcyusw
    pcyusw Posts: 7 Forumite
    Thankyou surfcat for sticking up for scientists!!

    I am a first year PhD student researching neurodegeneration, at the present time I can't complain about my situation, I have £12,500 p/a stipend (tax-free, london stipend) from the medical research council and they also covers all my fees. I have student loans to pay back from four years as an undergrad, but it was the only way I could be at uni, so no complaints there. I have money for the next three years to live off whilst I do my PhD, but there is a good chance I will spend some months without a wage whilst I try and write up the thesis. A total of seven years at university later, and i'll (hopefully) find a job as a post-doc, with a starting wage of around £20000 p/a.

    To anyone else (unfortunately including most of my family!) this hardly seems worth the hassle. However, I don't complain because this is something I have wanted to do all my life, no matter how poor the pay, how many people can truly say they enjoy every day at work and have a job that really motivates them? I also whole-heartedly believe that the work I do will one day make a difference (no matter how small!) to peoples lives, this is worth more than any huge pay packet!

    Unfortunately I am one of the lucky ones, i have many friends with the exactly the same degree as me who cannot find a PhD place for one simple reason - no funding! This seems a shame when there is so much yet to be discovered in all areas of reseach. I feel for the girl who wishes to be a lawyer, as everyone should be able to follow their dreams, but as surfcat says there are alot of lawyers whose work has no bearing on everyday life of most people. I have friends who did law at uni and there is a lot of funding out there from different companies, but it is extremely competitive because of the high amount of law graduates-the companies need some way to filter out the cream of the crop!

    However, I can only agree with surfcat that more funding needs to be given to sciences. The number of people enrolling for science courses decreases each year, with some universities having to shut chemistry departments etc altogether. This is such a shame as the UK has some of the best medical research labs in world, but how can we uphold this without money? At the end of the day, when you compare the wages of a scientist and a lawyer, what are 90% pf prospective students going to choose, no matter what differnce their work will make?

    Anyway, forgive the rant!! I truly do wish anyone luck in trying to pursue their chosen career dreams-no matter what they are- but obviously i'm a little bit biased in my opinions of where I think the governments money should go!
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