Conservative Postgraduate changes – Is higher education no longer just for elites?

Author – Oliver Wootton

During Labour’s election campaign, Corbyn will undoubtedly push his ‘free education’ policies. A common phrase ‘actions speak louder than words’ rings to mind. The Labour party during Tony Blair’s campaign (97-07), gave greater opportunities for degree students through the ‘student grants & loans’ scheme. This gave students from a lower income background greater support in the form of a part paid and part free loan. After the degree your on your own, which in the current employment market means competing with everyone else who also has a degree. Oh and by the way, BBC News reports that in 2014 there were ‘79,440’ graduates that past with a first class honors degree, that amounts to an increase of 70% from 5 years ago. The Financial Times has reported in 2016 (April, https://www.ft.com/content/480d0ad6-0ba9-11e6-b0f1-61f222853ff3), a figure of 1 in 3 recent graduates are working in low-skilled jobs not related to their subject. So what does the Conservative party have to say?

The Conservative Structure…

The Conservatives have introduced a more effective structure. This benefits, not only those on a lower income, but allows more people to go further than a degree course. Finally recognition of Masters and PHD qualifications by the Conservatives have meant new highly skilled opportunities are no longer only available to the wealthy, removing discriminatory barriers to education. A move away from calls of elitism thrown at the Conservative party. The Conservatives have currently implemented a Masters loan for 2016-17 studies, it has further been debated to introduce a PHD loan to extend students education to the highest level, Available to everyone with no means testing!

The Masters…

A loan was introduced for courses starting in Aug/Sept 2016, which allowed up to £10,000 to help fund a Masters courses. This is available to both Full-time and Part-time students. This covers the fee’s of most masters level postgraduate courses, but, is not design to cover all living costs. A firm move by the Conservatives to create a more highly skilled work force, giving opportunities to domestic students of all backgrounds. It is repaid through similar terms as of degree student loans. It will be interesting to see figures in the coming months of just how many students have completed a Masters course after the introduction of this loan.

The Future of PHD’S…

The pinnacle of legal education is of course a PHD. Out of reach by many students and professionals wanting true recognition for their abilities, all because of cost and time. There’s not much you can do about the ‘time’ aspect, most PHD courses are 3/4 years full-time for good reason! They are the highest form of education. The costs, however, could potentially be mitigated. This was a move inspired by the Conservatives who hope to implement a loan in 2018! Think of this fact when you are considering your voting choice in Junes election. It would offer a loan of £25,000 to cover course fees and some living costs, not means tested. Opening up higher education to the masses is the very opposition of an elitist view. Students will now be able to strive on academic ability without wealth being as much of a factor. 

See for yourself…on Prospects (https://www.prospects.ac.uk/postgraduate-study/funding-postgraduate-study/phd-loans)

How do they fund such a scheme?…

Questions of how the Conservatives are funding such a scheme are of course going to be an issue. One suggestion can be seen through recent education changes. Student loans are now no longer offering grants to students, only loans are available which all students have to repay. The saving from not giving free grants to students has been returned into funding further higher education paths. It must be said that, although they have removed this funding, the conditions of repayment of student loans are fair, given the reasonable salary required before repayments begin.

It depends ultimately how far you want to take your education, higher education isn’t for everyone. For those who do aspire to continue their education options could soon become available to reach the highest academic standard.

Thank you for reading, please follow LEGAL EAGLE for a view on politics and the law in a plain talking language. Updates on the general election campaign will be soon to follow…

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