Cuts? In my experience postgraduate funding is already in crisis.

So, as ever I have as my springboard a guardian article, this one covering the imminent prospect of imminent postgraduate funding cuts. I should probably not have used the term "prospect" as the current situation is already so dire that those completing them basically have none. Having been through the process I thought it'd jot down my thoughts in response.

I did a masters because I loved the subject. I didn't expect to go straight into a cushy graduate position when I left; especially when the economy went into recession not long into my studies. I did not, however, expect to still be working at the as an assistant in a supermarket (sorry, its m&s, so *ahem* _food hall_). At £6.62 an hour, 37 and a half hours a week, minus lunch breaks, I can just about manage to pay my immediate bills and put a little aside to go towards my student debts. These aren't my student loans co debts; like many students the ~£18k I owe them don't even figure in my mental account of my situation. No, my immediate concerns are repaying family members kind enough to lend me the money for my PG fees and my credit card and overdraft repayments. The latter two resulted from the living costs of a year. Both the upfront fees and the living costs were bereft of structural financial aid.

The fees could have been helped by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), but successive restructurings have squeezed out funding for masters applicants, giving scant chance out receiving help. They could alternatively have been paid for by the University. But the Cardiff HISAR department, as I imagine is the case across many departments nationally, had only one or two places, which I got beat to by the simple fact that I only had a 2:1 at undergraduate rather than a first.
With no funding available from the academy, none was realistically available from the banks. The government sponsor a development loan scheme, but you have to demonstrate that the course was vocational. By the way, vocational precludes continuing on to further study, and thus stepping on to a PhD, being the most well established route to a job in the field.
The entire experience is demoralising. I'm glad I did the course, but money was a constant worry, having health consequences during the December period where I was attempting to both work and study full-time. I'm still living with the consequences of my PG finances, and have effectively had to rule out the idea of doing a PhD in the near future.

I just can't afford it.


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