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.
|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.|
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 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.
In practice, however, it could represent the most generous postgraduate finance package in the UK.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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:
With the exception of England, the details of all of these loan plans are still subject to confirmation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last updated - 01/12/2016