Dear Chancellor of the Exchequer,
Thank you for your early Christmas present to British under 30-years-olds who want to do a Masters degree. Among others issues in your Autumn Statement the news that the Government will provide postgraduate course funding of up to £10,000 to British people from 2016 perked up my ears. I completed my MSc in 2013 and I was completely self-funded. This means I earned my tuition fee and year out funds myself. I had very little time to do it and it was not enjoyable to say the least. The generous news made me feel a little peeved initially, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
However, on remembering when I began my course at UCL that there had been so few Brits in a large department I felt differently. British university education is brilliant and people travel from far and wide across the world to attend our great institutions. This is great but making sure that young smart Brits aren't at a financial disadvantage is a matter of economic competition as well as an issue of fairness. To make sure that British people are competing with the best and brightest the world has to offer access to higher education is crucial. You have made this a reality and students and the British economy should thank you. Postgraduate funding is a savvy decision, not merely a nice freebie. There is method behind the madness, which some people may view the choice to be.
Of course there will be the naysayers who exclaim that young Brits do not need more debt, let alone a Masters in the Philosophical History of Chocolate. I wish I'd done that degree... However, anything that opens up access to education is good and I congratulate you. Can the Government afford it? That's a story for another person. I'm only writing as a mere postgraduate of Public Policy. Investing in the young, especially in their education, always reaps financial benefits in the future, for those individuals personally as well as the British economy.
This news will mean the calibre of students will increase with an influx of applications. It's common knowledge that applying to a masters degree is more likely to result in an acceptance than a bachelors degree. This increased competition can only be good. This is another reason why I am pleased to have already completed my degree. I applied to three leading institutions for my masters and got accepted by all three. Would this have still happened if I was up against more people much smarter than me? It's important that the quality of master degree courses continue as I have a worry that more courses will pop up to cash in on the increase in academic funding. This is fine, only as long as they are rigorous and offer quality education.
Thank you again, what an awesome decision George. I suppose you only have on question for me really: do I think my degree was worth it? You betcha.
Laura Blumenthal BA(Hons) MSc