Funding for Taught Masters Abolished - what do you think?

(21 Posts)

I just read this:

www.guardian.co.uk/education/2013/jan/05/university-protest-disastrous-neglect-postgraduates

The article says 'Figures released in a parliamentary answer reveal that the last cohort of students on taught master's to be funded graduated in 2011 and no further funding is planned. The number of students on a research master's who will be supported is also set to drop by 47% from 786 to 413 in 2013-14. The number of PhD students funded will also drop from 5,793 to 4,649, an almost 20% cut, by next year.'

I know that funding has been getting harder and harder to come by, and back when I applied the guidelines said they only funded taught master's courses if you planned to go on to a PhD, but I think that it was possible to get funding if you did some subjects even if you only planned to do that taught course.

I'm just really fed up and wonder why this is thought to make any sense at all? Seeing as students will already have been charged so much for their undergraduate degrees. I don't understand how it's going to work. confused

titchy Tue 08-Jan-13 16:32:10

Most postgrad students fund themselves. It was only the very lucky who got research council funding, which is what this item talks about. Employers still help with some, and most institutions offer pt PG courses to those who are working. So not particularly shocking!

Fayrazzled Tue 08-Jan-13 16:41:07

I funded my own taught masters at Cambridge in 1998. It was common to fund your own even then. The only students who were funded in my subject (law) were funded by their own governments (international students) or who had won some kind of funding e.g. There was a commonwealth fund for students from other commonwealth countries. Very little to nothing available for home students.

I know some postgraduate students fund themselves, wholly or partly, but a lot also don't. It shouldn't just be for the rich (and it is really expensive, not something you could easily fund). In my discipline, you can't get funding from an employer.

It was never possible to get funding from certain sources for a part time course, and some sources can't be run part time.

I was shocked, TBH. Maybe I am naive. But there are loads of people who simply won't be able to do a master's if it isn't funded, aren't there?

*some courses, obv., not sources. Sorry.

Fayrazzled Tue 08-Jan-13 16:42:51

I had to take a loan out to pay the tuition fees and living expenses for my masters. It took me until I was 30 to pay it off.

Ouch.

From what I understand, it's increasingly difficult to get a career development loan now, and tuition fees are much higher.

I just don't see how it can work. Or why it's a good idea.

TunipTheVegedude Tue 08-Jan-13 16:46:18

A lot of bright people will go abroad.

The other thing that will have to happen is that institutions who have previously been snotty about part-time courses will have to be more willing to offer them.

It is a shame and will make postgraduate study in many subjects even more socially exclusive.

Law isn't typical because students generally expect to earn a decent salary eventually so they're more willing to get into debt. There will be more impact on students in less vocational subjects.

I can see more part-time courses would be good. I am wondering how that would work in some science subjects, though - presumably you'd have to redesign all sorts of experiments to make it possible (I am basing this on what DH's mates who're scientists say, and I suppose there might be some snobbery/unwillingness in the mix there too).

I have a mate who was in foster care who finished a PhD last year - it is vanishingly unusual for someone who has that background to do that and she wouldn't have done it without funding. And she deserves the funding. She has worked really hard and she was a cheap source of teaching while she was there (aside from anything else).

(Btw, I bet it feels scary even with law, asking for a big loan.)

creamteas Tue 08-Jan-13 17:46:03

In the sciences, it is not always necessary to do a separate Masters year.

First, lots of science courses incorporate the masters into the first degree (so you apply for a 4 or 5 year degree course from A levels).

Second, it is much more common to go straight into a PhD from a BSc than in humanities and social sciences.

Lots of my students sign to the the Social Work Masters (which like teaching you can get the same loans etc as your first degree), not because they want to be social workers, but as it will then let them come back to sociology to do their PhDs!

Ah, right, so it sounds as if my wondering about part-time for the sciences isn't so much of an issue, that is good.

It's strange - it's the other way around in some subjects. You can't do a PhD straight from undergraduate (unless you're exceptional in some way, such as being a mature student).

TunipTheVegedude Tue 08-Jan-13 18:15:55

It hasn't always been that way though. When I graduated in Classics in the mid-90s, a lot of people went straight into a PhD. The AHRB was just starting to introduce the idea that you should have to do a Masters first even if you were certain you wanted to do a PhD. I wonder if they'll go back to funding PhDs for students without MAs.

They might do that, I'd not thought. I think it would also mean a lot of change in the later stages, though. It would make it harder to be ready to publish in the third year if you'd not done a master's, I think.

TunipTheVegedude Tue 08-Jan-13 18:22:20

Yes, it would, wouldn't it?
I remember at the time, people were encouraged to do the Masters because it meant you got 1+3 funding instead of just 3, and you could use the Masters to make headway on your PhD if you already knew what you wanted to do.

It's funny how quickly things seem to erode, isn't it?

I expect I'm panicking looking at it from the outside and not knowing what it'd be like to be a prospective MA student right now. I would love to be able to see ahead to what it actually does in terms of economy/academia.

creamteas Tue 08-Jan-13 18:34:36

The problem is with the emphasis now on finishing your PhD on time, you really have to hit the ground running and those coming straight from their BAs often do not have enough higher level theory and methods training to be able to do this.

It was one of our emeritus profs that pointed out that when it was usual to go straight onto a PhD, it was also common to take 5-7 years to do it!

Yes, that makes sense. That's the sort of thing that I am worried about. I did a masters and it was amazing - it really prepared me and I know that people who did it and then went on to other, non-academic things (including people who never intended to do a PhD) say the same. My brother's partner has a masters, which has helped her hugely in her job.

TunipTheVegedude Tue 08-Jan-13 18:42:07

That's true Creamteas. It was told it was very unusual to finish in 3 years, hence why it would be good to get 1+3 funding if you possibly could.

funnyperson Tue 08-Jan-13 18:52:13

Yes I think Masters degrees can bridge te gap between the first degree and a PHd, the dissertation often leads to a first publication and means a PhD student can hit the ground running so its worrying that funding might be more difficult. Masters degrees have become very very expensive ( cf those taught at LSE for example) partly because they are deliberately used to increase the income to departments. Aimed at non EU graduates initially, the fees are sky high and furthermore the student has to provide documentation of the ability to pay the fees and living expenses before being accepted.
Both my (very academic) DC have already said they doubt that the expense of a masters is worth it purely on the grounds of cost.
The idea of the MPhil which can lead onto a DPhil without going through selection and reapplication processes all over again seems a good one,(the Oxford model) as does the idea of the 3+1 course (eg Imperial ) leading to a masters straight from a BA with the loan from the student loan company and fees at the undergraduate scale.

Hmm. In my subject, at least, if you did an MPhil that took two years and you then had to reapply to do the PhD. You couldn't just go straight into a DPhil.

Though of course it's quite possible if you'd done two years of MPhil first, it'd help you finish a PhD in good time. I don't know how the funding would work since the first year of the MPhil counts as a taught course and the second might, too - I assumed this course would also be one no longer eligible for funding.

I think the general idea of having courses where you could do 3+1 years is good, though. That could be really helpful. Though I still think it is tough because so many people won't know to apply for it when they're 18 year olds starting out. Difficult.

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