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 by Lydia Chantler-Hicks
, posted on 8 Jun '17

Putting the Postgraduate Gap Year on Hold: Reasons to Consider a Masters in 2017-18

Coming to the end of your undergraduate degree is a time for celebration.

You’ve nearly completed three years of university education, and the world will soon be your oyster!

You’ve seen photos of friends tuk-tuk-ing around Thailand and zip wiring through the Amazon, and now you want your turn. After all, you’ve been in the education system since you were knee high, so it’s about time you took a break, right?

Stepping up to further study may not be what you have in mind, but there are some advantages to going straight into a postgraduate degree.

So, before you start packing your bags, take a look at our list of reasons why you should consider putting your travel plans on hold for a year, and doing a Masters.

Postgraduate study abroad

If the travel bug has got you good and proper, then doing a Masters abroad is definitely something to consider. Living and studying overseas will provide you with a more immersive experience of another country than you would get by travelling or going on holiday.

Using our website, you can browse thousands of postgraduate courses at universities across the world. You can also find advice on how to fund a Masters abroad, or learn more about the Erasmus programme, which supports students studying at universities in other countries.

There’s more to studying abroad than funding too:

Research by the European Commission has found that students who complete Erasmus programmes are more employable, and have improved career prospects.

Beat Brexit

We don’t know what the exact result of Brexit will be yet, but it’s still possible that student fees (and visa requirements) could increase. This could be an issue for UK students studying a Masters in Europe, or for EU students studying in the UK.

However, Brexit hasn’t happened yet (and the process isn’t expected to be complete until 2019). So, if you’re interested in studying abroad in the UK or Europe, now could be the time to do it.

While the UK is still a member of the EU, Erasmus Masters loans are still available to UK students (and to EU students studying in the UK). So there really is no better time to the make the most of this amazing opportunity, and experience living abroad while gaining a postgraduate degree!

While a year of travelling could be expensive, studying elsewhere in Europe could end up being absolutely free, or at least extremely cheap, depending on what you study and where. This is because UK and EU students usually pay domestic, rather than international fees.

This means that UK students can actually study a Masters for free in some parts of Europe. EU students, meanwhile, will benefit from UK fee and funding guarantees until at least 2018-19.

Money makes the world go round you go around the world

Jetting off with nothing but a one-way ticket and the clothes on your back might sound romantic. But in reality, travelling will be a far more enjoyable experience if you can afford to really get the most out of the places you visit.

Whether you decide to study a Masters at home or abroad, you may be able to spend some of your free time working outside of your course. By taking on a part-time job or a paid internship during termtime or holidays, you can use your postgraduate year to start putting money aside so that you can fulfil your gap year dreams.

So hold off for a while, open a savings account, check out our tips for saving money as a postgraduate, and go travelling next year in comfort.

Think of the bigger picture

Doing a postgraduate degree might mean putting your wanderlust on ice for a year or so.

But if you hang in there, you could end up reaping the rewards in years to come, and enjoy more travelling and holidays in the future as a result.

Data suggests that Masters degrees are really valued by employers, and that they make you more likely to be employed in a high salaried role.

A survey carried out by the UK’s Higher Education Statistics Agency suggests that Masters degrees increase your employability as well as your likelihood to be a high earner, with nearly half of all Masters graduates earning an annual salary over £30,000 after four years.

It might be a slightly tenuous theory, but with more disposable income, you could have more money to spend on travelling and holidays in years to come!

You will really deserve a break

You might feel like you’ve earned a rest after your Bachelors, but just think of how stronger that feeling will be after a Masters, when absolutely nobody can say you don’t deserve a good break. Just imagine relaxing on a sandy beach, basking in sunshine and the knowledge that you’ve added a couple more letters to the end of your name.

Many Masters courses run until September, giving students the summer months in which to write their dissertation or complete a final project. This means that if you play your cards right, you could even find time to go abroad during the summer holiday.

Learn a language

No matter how many languages you currently speak, learning another could add a nice, shiny new string to your bow.

With determination and practice, you could come out of your Masters with the ability to speak a new language, as well as with a new degree! A second language will help you to stand out from the crowd when it comes to applying for jobs and grad schemes. It’s also a fantastic asset when it comes to travelling, and could help you to discover new opportunities and friendships all around the world.

Learning a language while you study doesn’t necessarily need to be expensive. There are plenty of free apps and websites available, such as Duolingo. Alternatively, you could try starting a conversation class with other students, or taking a language course at your university.

Some postgraduate courses allow students to take optional modules in foreign languages such as French, Japanese, and Russian, as part of their course. These are usually offered at different levels, to cater for those with different abilities. Many universities also offer extra-curricular language classes, some of which are offered free of charge to qualifying students.

Opportunity to travel in university holidays

Most Masters courses offer standard university holidays. While you'll probably need to spend much of this time studying, you could also be left with some time for travelling during the year.

So if your feet are itching to travel, it doesn’t mean you need to rule out postgraduate study. Once you begin a full-time job in the ‘real world’, you can expect around 28 days of annual leave. A Masters year could be your last opportunity to make the most of long university holidays, whether by studying, gaining work experience, or going abroad.

Time to figure things out

Perhaps a ‘gap yah’ wasn’t what you had in mind. If you’re considering taking a year out just to give you time to figure out what you want to do, don’t rule out postgraduate study.

A Masters will offer you an extra year in which to work out your ambitions (while allowing you to hang onto your NUS extra card and student discounts for a little longer). And, of course, a postgraduate qualification will help you to stand out from the crowd when you are competing for a job.

Do it for the right reasons

We don’t mean to say that you should do a Masters purely for frivolous reasons like the long holidays, and potential for extra income. But if you’re on the fence, and you aren’t sure whether postgraduate study is for you, these things are great incentives.

It’s also important to remember that Masters degrees and having fun aren’t mutually exclusive concepts.

Postgraduate study could offer you plenty of opportunity to do whatever it is you want to do, whether that be take stock of your future ambitions, or see the wonders of the world. So don’t rule it out.

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