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Postgraduate Student Loans in Wales

As of the 2017–18 academic year, Wales will introduce loans for postgraduate students. Read on for our complete guide to the scheme:

How do I apply, and how much can I get?

How do I apply for a postgraduate loan?

Postgraduate loan applications in Wales are made through Student Finance Wales.

How much can I get if I start a postgraduate degree in 2017?

For the academic year 2017-18, you can apply for up to £10,280 as a non-means-tested loan. If you don’t require the maximum amount, you can request less.

The maximum amount of £10,280 is a cap for the entirety of your degree. In other words, if you enrol on a two-year course and request £10,000, you will only have £5,000 per year – you will not receive £10,000 each year.

You should note that the £10,280 limit should will not cover the costs of all Masters courses – some qualifications, such as MBAs, will cost more.

How will I be paid if I start a postgraduate degree in 2017?

Your loan will be split evenly according to the number of years you are studying for, and then by the traditional three-semester system followed by most UK universities.

The table below summarises how much of your loan you will be entitled to each year, as well as when you can expect to be paid:

Number of years of study

How much of my loan am I allowed per year?

When will I be paid?

One

100%

Instalment one (33% of annual allowance): month one of course. 

Instalment two (33% of annual allowance): month four of course. 

Instalment three (34% of annual allowance): month seven of course.

Two

50%

Three

33%

Four

25%

What are the repayments like if I start a postgraduate degree in 2017?

You will repay your postgraduate loan at the same time as your undergraduate loan.

While the details of how a Welsh postgraduate loan will be repaid have not yet been confirmed, it is expected to be similar to the English system that is already in place. You can read more about the English postgraduate loan repayment arrangements here.

After 25 years, if you haven’t paid off your loan in full, the remaining amount will be written off. However, it is assumed that a postgraduate qualification will increase your earning potential to a point at which you will be able to pay off your loan in full before the 25-year cut-off point.

How much can I get from 2018 onwards?

For 2018 onwards, a new system is likely to be introduced. This is subject to what is known as the Diamond Review – a detailed analysis of Welsh postgraduate support. While the plans have been given preliminary approval by the Welsh Government, they are currently going through a process of consultation before the details are confirmed.

The current proposals will see the introduction of a system that will allow Masters students to receive up to £17,000 in means-tested and non-means-tested grant and loan funding. This will break down as follows:

  • A non-means-tested grant of £1,000, plus a means-tested grant of up to £6,885.
  • A loan that will form the remaining portion of your package, up to the maximum level of £17,000.

In essence, this system offers all students the same amount of money, with the key difference being that those from lower-income backgrounds will receive a larger percentage of the package as a grant (which does not need to be repaid).

A postgraduate loan is intended to cover the cost of studying for a Masters, and as such, the package is not split according to maintenance and tuition costs.

Can I receive a postgraduate loan if I’m studying for a PhD degree?

The Diamond Review has recommended that Welsh postgraduate students should also be eligible for a new scholarship scheme. If approved, the Welsh Postgraduate Research Scholarship Scheme would come into effect in 2018, and would provide support for up to 150 students to complete a PhD over a three-year period. This would cover fees and maintenance, and as it is a scholarship, it would not need to be repaid.

There are also plans to introduce a loan system for Welsh PhD students who don’t win scholarship funding. This is intended to work in a similar manner to the upcoming English PhD loan system.

Why will the Welsh postgraduate funding system change so soon after being introduced?

Eagle-eyed observers will have realised that the system proposed for the academic year 2017–18 is very similar to the English postgraduate loan system. This is no coincidence – the scheme is being offered as an interim option to ensure that Welsh students don’t have to wait until 2018 to receive postgraduate funding.

Millennium Centre , Cardiff , Wales

Eligibility

Personal criteria

To be eligible for a Welsh postgraduate loan, you must:

  • Be aged under 60 on the first day of the academic year of your course.
  • Have lived in the UK for at least three years immediately before the start date of your course, and have a home address in Wales. Note that you do not need to be studying at a university in Wales – this loan can be used to study at any UK university.

It’s important to remember that residency as a student and ordinary residence are distinct from one another. If you have studied in Wales at undergraduate level but have moved from elsewhere in the UK to do so, this does not count as being ordinarily resident in Wales. Likewise, if you are ordinarily resident in Wales but have moved elsewhere in the UK to study at undergraduate level, this won’t affect your residency status.

Course-based criteria

In addition to the above personal criteria, your course must meet the following requirements:

  • It must be your first Masters degree.
  • It must be a Masters, meaning that it must be a level 7 qualification. While this excludes Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) and Diploma (PGDip) students from receiving funding, it does mean that if you already hold a PGCert or PGDip, you will be eligible for funding.
  • It must be a stand-alone Masters degree. This means that it cannot be part of a course that combines it with another qualification, such as an undergraduate degree.
  • It can be taught or research-based, with full-time (one or two academic years) and part-time (two to four years, where this is no more than twice the length of the equivalent full-time course, or up to three years where no full-time equivalent exists) both acceptable options.
  • It must begin on or after 1 August 2017. If you have already started working towards a Masters, you will be ineligible for funding.

What about EU students?

As with the rest of the UK, the Welsh government has confirmed that EU students will be entitled to postgraduate funding in the 2017 academic year. The only additional criteria that apply are as follows:

  • If you have been ordinarily resident in the UK for three years, most recently in England, you will be eligible for a postgraduate loan at any UK university.
  • If you have been ordinarily resident in the EU, EEA or Switzerland for three years, you will be eligible for a postgraduate loan in England.
  • In the first instance, you must live in the UK, and in the second, you must live in England. You will not be eligible for funding if you intend to live and study outside of the UK, even by distance learning.

Please also note that regardless of the terms or timing of Brexit, students who receive a postgraduate loan will continue to do so for the normal duration of their course.