Postgraduate Loans

Very pleased to see a consultation on postgraduate support – More Means Better applies to PG as well as UG!

The BIS consultation confirms that the loan scheme for PGT programmes will be aimed at English students at English universities.  This is a devolved matter, so would need cooperation with Scotland, Wales and/or Northern Ireland to have a UK scheme.

What excitements will follow from this, however?  On individual eligibility the following applies:

Individual eligibility will align with Part 2 – Schedule 1 of the Student Support Regulations 2011. Individuals will be English domicile and/or EU nationals, and must demonstrate that they have been resident in England and/ or in the European Union for a minimum of three years prior to attending a postgraduate taught Master’s course. The loan will not be available to non-EU nationals unless specified under the Student Support Regulations.

At first glance this would appear to exclude English students who were taking an undergraduate course at a Scottish university.  Here we would need to know how the rule about ordinarily resident except for the purposes of education is intended to apply here.  You could be ‘ordinarily resident’ in London, but attending a course in Edinburgh.  I would assume that they wouldn’t want those residents of Edinburgh who were in London for a first degree to get the loan.  If you take a job in Edinburgh for three years after graduation, you won’t be eligible, whereas the Scot working in London will be.

Individuals will be under age 30 on 1st of August as the start of the academic year in which they attend the first year of an eligible postgraduate taught Master’s course.

As to age, inevitably they’ve had to draw this line somewhere.  You’ll need to have applied for this loan in advance of starting, so having the cut-off date on 1 August is clear.  It gives people born in August one less year to apply for the loan than their school-year contemporaries, but that disadvantage should have evened out 12 years later…

BIS are less certain about institutional eligibility:

Subject to meeting the individual eligibility criteria, individuals are eligible to undertake study at a Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) fundable institution or any Alternative Provider who has obtained Degree Awarding Powers.

So, the pedant will ask, that would include UK universities with a branch campus in London? There are branches of Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish universities in London: are they excluded? Can they be designated as ‘alternative providers’ for this purpose?  After all, some alternative providers are going to be owned off-shore…

What’s clear is that there are lots of questions – there are a huge number of questions in the BIS consultation – and plenty of meaty issues.

So, for now, this scheme is based on the following maxim

The English, the English, the English are best
I wouldn’t give tuppence [to] all of the rest.