Postgraduate loans for Welsh students unlikely

Before the summer, Chancellor George Osborne announced some changes made to the Student Loans Company (SLC), that included scrapping the maintenance grant, but also in its structure. Welsh Education minister Huw Lewis last week announced concerns over some of these changes, which could mean the SLC will not be able to arrange a postgraduate student loan scheme for Wales, despite one beginning for English students from next year.

A Welsh Government spokesperson has also said Welsh students could be worse off, “the SLC’s inability to implement Welsh policy changes, could result in Welsh learners being up to £500 worse off than their English counterparts.”

It seems unless these changes can be adapted or improved to take the Welsh and Northern Ireland’s Governments concerns on board, it will be unlikely a postgraduate funding option will be enforced.

When the postgraduate loan scheme was mentioned for the first time last year, President of NUS Wales Beth Button called on the Welsh Government to “step up to the mark on the provision of postgraduate loans.” She went on to say that “without it, the entire Welsh postgraduate sector will suffer.”

Carwyn Jones told Gair Rhydd before this announcement that postgraduate funding is “something to be looked at over the next year”, but commented that postgraduate study is needed, although it “depends what they do”. The minister also said that it’s currently a difficult situation, as a postgraduate degree is sometimes the minimum need for a particular job, so funding is important, but maybe not in some other subjects. CUSU Postgraduates Students Vice President Katie Kelly commented, “Cardiff University Students’ Union supports any initiative that encourages more people to take up postgraduate study.”

Agreeing with Beth Button,, she said,“it is vital that a similar funding system is introduced in Wales to ensure equal opportunities for Welsh domicile students wishing to pursue postgraduate study.”