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Welsh postgraduate funding proposals

Welsh Postgraduate Loans

The Welsh Government is considering plans to introduce Masters degree loans from 2018. An interim scheme is also being considered for students starting a Masters in 2017.

All of this will good news if you're a Welsh student, looking to study a Masters from next year. This page provides a full guide to the plans, including everything we currently know about eligible students and courses.

Bear in mind that these proposals are currently subject to consultation. The Welsh Government has confirmed its intention to go ahead with the scheme, but some elements may change. We'll update as more details emerge. In the meantime, our blog and newsletter will help you stay informed.

Welsh Masters funding - the key details
What? Proposed student loans and grants for full-time and part-time taught Masters degrees.
How much? Total support package of up to £17,000, made up of means-tested and non-means-tested grant and loan funding.
Who? UK nationals resident in Wales.
Where? Any UK university.
When? Proposed for 2018. Interim scheme also considered for 2017.

Funding amounts

The maximum amount of postgraduate finance available to Welsh Masters students is expected to be £17,000. This will be made up of two components: a grant and a loan:

  • The grant will include a non-means-tested component of £1,000 plus a means-tested component of up to £6,885 (equivalent to the maximum amount received by an undergraduate living at home and tapered by household income).
  • The loan will top up your grant to the maximum support level of £17,000.

The intention is for all of this finance to be a contribution to the cost of studying your Masters. It won't be split into separate maintenance and tuition amounts.

This combination of loan and grant support is quite different to that already offered in England (or the proposals for Northern Irish and Scottish students).

In practice, however, it could represent the most generous postgraduate finance package in the UK.

When will this funding be available?

The Welsh government plans to introduce its main postgraduate grants and loans from 2018. The precise timeline for this will be confirmed following a consultation on the plans.

It is possible that a pilot scheme may precede the roll-out of postgraduate support for all students.

What support will be available in 2017?

Proposals have also been put forward for interim postgraduate loans for Welsh students starting a Masters in 2017. These are not confirmed and will be subject to the same consultation process as the 2018 loans.

If introduced, loans would be similar to those available in England. You would be able to borrow up to £10,000 as a contribution to the cost of studying a Masters. Eligibility criteria would mirror those for existing undergraduate student loan support in Wales.

Confirmation of these plans (or otherwise) is expected from February 2017. We will update this information as soon as we know more.

How will repayments work?

Postgraduate grants will not need to be repaid, but loans will use a similar system to undergraduate finance.

Exact details aren't confirmed, but are likely to be similar to those in England, with income-contingent repayments of 6% of annual income and an interest rate based on the Retail Prices Index (RPI).

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Eligible students

This new postgraduate funding is designed to support Welsh Masters students in the same was as existing loans support English Masters students.

Eligibility for UK students will therefore be based on ordinary residency in Wales. You will need to have a Welsh home address and to be most recently resident there.

Periods of time spent studying in other parts of the UK should not prevent you from receiving a Welsh postgraduate loan as these will be regarded as temporary residence for the purposes of study.

Can other UK students receive funding to study a Masters in Wales?

Yes, but you may not be eligible for Wales's own postgraduate grants and loans. Instead you will need to apply for a postgraduate loan in your own country. All schemes are intended to be 'portable', allowing students to study at universities across the UK.

The current status of UK postgraduate loan systems is as follows:

  • England introduced loans of up to £10,000 in 2016.
  • Northern Ireland plans to introduce loans of up to £5,500 in 2017.
  • Scotland is considering loans of up to £9,000 with no date set.
  • Wales (as described on this page) is considering combined loans and grants of up to £17,000, with the possibility of interim loans of up to £10,000 in 2017.

With the exception of England, the details of all of these loan plans are still subject to confirmation.

What about EU students?

The Welsh Government has joined other parts of the UK in confirming student finance support for EU nationals beginning degrees in the 2017 academic year.

In principle this means that EU students should be eligible for the interim postgraduate loans in Wales if these are confirmed for 2017-18.

Eligibility for Welsh postgraduate support from 2018 will depend on the terms of the UK's 'Brexit' process and the decisions of the Welsh Government.

Eligible courses

The new Welsh postgraduate funding will be aimed primarily at Masters students on taught courses. This includes MA (Master of Arts) MSc (Master of Science) and other common postgraduate degrees.

Professional Masters-level courses such as the MBA (Master of Business Administration) may also be eligible, though the cost of these programmes is likely to exceed the maximum support level.

Some research may be eligible if a university defines them as taught programmes (or majority taught programmes). This can be the case for some MRes (Master of Research) degrees.

Please note, however, that specific course eligibility is still subject to confirmation.

Will PGCert (Postgraduate Certificate) or PGDip (Postgraduate Diplomas) be eligible?

The current proposals only refer to taught Masters degrees. This suggests that postgraduate qualifications below Masters level won't eligible. The same approach has been taken in England.

Will support be available in all subjects?

There are no current plans to restrict loans or grants by subject-area. Instead the intention is to introduce postgraduate funding for all taught Masters degrees. This is similar to the approach being taken in England.

Will support be available for Welsh PhD students?

Yes. Wales is considering introducing grants and loans for future PhD students. These will be separate to the funding for Masters students.

Part of the Diamond Review recommended that a Welsh Postgraduate Research Scholarship Scheme be introduced from 2018. This would provide support for up to 150 students to complete a PhD over three years. Funding would cover fees and maintenance and would not be repayable.

The Welsh Government has accepted these proposals and will consider their implementation.

In addition, Wales also plans to offer a system of PhD loans for Welsh students who are unable to win one of these new scholarships. The intention is for these to work similarly to the English PhD loans being introduced in 2018.

Note that full eligibility and timescale details for Welsh PhD funding hasn't been confirmed. We'll update when we have more information, but the focus of this page is on Welsh postgraduate Masters funding.

Where can I study with Welsh Masters funding?

The new Welsh Masters funding will be fully portable across the UK. This means that students who are ordinarily resident in Wales will be able to receive support to study at universities in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales.

The Welsh Government is also considering the possibility of making its postgraduate funding portable beyond the UK. This could allow students to access Masters loans and grants when studying in Europe or beyond.

How long can my Masters last?

Support will be available for taught Masters degrees lasting up to two years full-time.

Part-time Masters degrees will also be eligible. They may last no longer than twice the duration of an equivalent full-time course. Where there is no full-time equivalent, a part-time Masters may last for up to three years.

Further information

The proposals for Welsh postgraduate loans and grants are based on the Diamond Review of higher education in Wales. They are currently part of a wider consultation on changes to student funding. During this period the Welsh Government will seek to hear from interested groups and take feedback on its plans.

The consultation runs until the 14th of February 2017. You can get involved here.

The Welsh Government will review responses to this consultation before confirming any updates to its plans. No specific timescale is confirmed, but more details may emerge in Spring 2017.

We'll keep this page updated in the meantime and highlight any breaking stories through our blog and newsletter.

Search for a Masters in the UK

Will Welsh postgraduate funding help you pursue a Masters? Browse and compare Masters degrees in the UK on FindAMasters.com

Last updated - 01/12/2016

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