Costs and funding
If you considering going down the full time BA, MA, MPhil or PhD, the financial commitment involved can, admittedly, be fairly substantial.
The cost per year of a BA degree course is set by individual institutions but is capped at a maximum of £3,145 as at 2008.
Most postgraduate degree programmes hover somewhere around the £3,200 mark per year.
In addition to tuition fees, you will also need to factor in the cost of living in the university town or city where you will be pursuing your studies, any additional outlays relating to your studies (books and other materials) and any existing domestic or financial commitments, such as childcare or your job (or both).
Literature Wales is unable to provide any funding or loans for either undergraduate or postgraduate degrees in Creative Writing or any financial support to assist you with associated living costs.
Undergraduate Degree Courses
If you are intending to undertake a BA degree course and you live and plan to study in Wales, you can claim a tuition fee grant to offset your costs – up to £1,890 per year. Student loans are available to undergraduates to offset the cost of tuition fees and living expenses.
You may also be able to claim the Assembly Learning Grant which can contribute towards the costs of living, as well as books, associated materials or childcare. To be eligible, you must have lived in the UK for three years before you start study and your permanent home must be in Wales. The Assembly Learning Grant is income-assessed and the maximum grant available is £2,835 per year. If you are entitled to full maintenance under this scheme, you can also claim a further £310 per year through the Welsh National Bursary scheme. You may also be eligible for other support if you are in special circumstances.
Part-time students are also entitled to a fee grant and other financial support.
For more detailed information on financial support for an undergraduate degree in Wales visit Student Finance Wales.
Funding for Postgraduate Degrees
If you want to pursue a postgraduate degree, whether masters or doctorate, you will not be eligible to apply for a student loan.
Some institutions do offer bursaries for strong candidates that can help to offset some of the cost involved, though these are generally very modest amounts, often to the value of around £500. Very occasionally larger scholarships are available. The department will usually provide details of these on its university homepage.
The principal funding body for postgraduate students in the Arts and Humanities in the UK is the Art and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The AHRC offers funding for both tuition fees and associated living costs. You may only apply for AHRC Funding once you have been given a formal offer to study, and all applications to the AHRC must be routed through your chosen institution. AHRC funding is also available for those who choose to pursue the part-time route.
Competition for AHRC awards is tough. You will be required to make a very compelling case in support of your application and evidence of your past academic performance will be taken strongly into account. For more information on funding opportunities through the Arts and Humanities Research Council and eligibility criteria visit the website.
Your Local Education Authority (LEA) may also be able to help. Although LEAs do not offer grants, some do administer charitable trust funds, which can cover both fees for postgraduate courses and can sometimes also provide a maintenance grant for the duration of your studies. Trust funds are usually restricted by place of birth or residence and sometimes they may be limited by age or certain other particulars. Due to their highly competitive nature, they often also require a very strong academic track record and evidence of a high level of personal commitment. Funds are sometimes limited to the more ‘traditional’ academic courses. Get in touch with your LEA to find out if there is a trust available for you to apply to. To get contact details for your LEA, visit Student Finance Wales which has a ‘Find Your Local Education Authority‘ search option on its home page.
The Part-time Option
Going the part-time route can not only make it possible to balance your employment or domestic commitments with learning, it can also make the financial burden considerably easier to bear as well, by spreading the fees over a longer period. In effect, costs each year are half a full-time course of study and the degree itself will generally take twice the time (i.e. an MPhil taking four years instead of the usual two; a PhD taking six years instead of the usual three).
Whether you are funding yourself through a part-time of full-time course, universities offer the opportunity to pay in tuition fees in termly instalments. You may well be required to provide some evidence to show that you are in a position to be able to meet the costs of your entire period of study first.