No, Your Future isn't Cancelled – Navigating COVID-19 as a Prospective Postgrad Student |
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Posted on 24 Mar '20

No, Your Future isn't Cancelled – Navigating COVID-19 as a Prospective Postgrad Student

Full disclosure: I'm writing this in the spare room in my attic, whilst my four year old son watches Paw Patrol Mighty Pups. Later on, I'll go for a quick run and try and see if the local corner shop has any fresh vegetables (two birds with one stone and all that). Then I'll head back home – and stay here.

Things are not normal at the moment, for me or for you. Here in the UK, just as in many other parts of the world, people are adapting to working from home and everyday activities from exercise and entertainment to business and retail are all moving online.

This transition hasn't always been easy, or even possible. My football team have been dreadful so far this season, but I still miss being able to go and watch them play. And there really is nothing quite like a McDonalds right now.

So what about education? Well, here's the thing: 2021 isn't cancelled (even if it feels like everything else is). Universities will still be welcoming new students, including postgraduates, this September. And, unlike football and fast food, there's actually nothing to stop you from carrying on your search for a Masters and PhD over the coming weeks. Perversely, it might actually be slightly easier in some ways. Here are a few reasons why.

Universities are going to really focus on things like virtual open day events

Time for a prediction that won't surprise anyone: a lot of the physical study fairs and on campus open days that universities can't run are going to be replaced by virtual events that they can. In fact, institutions and departments will probably be scheduling more of these event now that online is (currently) the only way to meet and engage with prospective students.

This is a good thing for postgraduate study because these events work really well for postgraduate courses. They're easy to scale to specific departments, with content like faculty interviews, facility showcases and one-to-one discussions with students and academics, all tailored to the specifics of Masters and PhD study. And you can make the most of all of this without leaving the house. Which is handy right now.

There are going to be more and more of these events coming up over the coming weeks, so the chances of finding one for the universities and courses you're interested in are higher than they ever would be otherwise. Keep an eye on our listings, or just sign up to get our weekly schedule of upcoming dates.

The courses and research opportunities aren't going anywhere

I don't know exactly how the COVID-19 outbreak will change our attitudes and practices in the future, but I'm willing to bet the human race isn't going to sit up and say 'well, we probably shouldn't bother with any more of that expert training and research now.'

Postgraduate study is going to become more important, not less – and that applies to all subjects. Because when an unprecedented viral outbreak reshapes our society and our perspective on the world, it isn't just the virologists who help sort that out. It's also the psychologists, the economists, the entrepreneurs, the political scientists and, yes, the historians (because, let's face it, we're already struggling to make sense of events over the past three weeks).

Sure, there might be temporary changes to course structure, start dates and modes of delivery (we'll tell you if so), but the thousands of Masters degrees and PhD opportunities on our sites aren't going anywhere.

The funding isn't going anywhere either

Universities and governments will continue to support postgraduate students because, well, see above.

We're expecting UK Masters degree loans and doctoral loans to open as normal in the summer (probably at the end of June). Applications for Research Council funding are largely complete by now, but next year's cycle is expected as normal.

The situation will be similar across the rest of the world. Sure, response times for questions and queries might be a ltitle slower right now as people adjust to remote working, but, to repeat: the world is absolutely not withdrawing its support for expert training and research.

And neither are we

I may be (temporarily) writing in an attic, but I'm still as much of a postgraduate study geek as I was last month and, like the rest of the FindAMasters and FindAPhD team, I'm still ready to help you make sense of the options available to you. We're going to keep sending out our weekly newsletter, including all those virtual events plus any news you need to hear as things develop. You can also send questions to us using editor[at] / editor[at] We'll try to help.

Anyway. . . Paw Patrol has finished and it's time for that run. Stay safe. Stay at home. Look forward.

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Last updated: 24 March 2020