Keele University has just posted new details on the government’s forthcoming Masters degree loans scheme. Looking at this news, and also at the government’s consultation PDF linked to by Keele, the details of the scheme now appear to be as follows:—

* A £10,000 loan to pay for a one-year full-time taught Masters degree, on the same payback terms as the undergraduate loan. At current prices £10k should leave most students with a clear £6k to help with living costs + travel fares, to cover a Sept-June course period.

* Students can choose a postgraduate degree in any subject. But I’m guessing that a few over-subscribed / prestigious / desirable / accommodation-cramped courses may find ways to cap classroom numbers, perhaps especially where a course’s lucrative overseas students are a significant income stream for the university? Some courses might, for instance, only accept loan-eligible students with a first-class degree? Just my guesses.

* The good news is that under 60s will be eligible. This was set to be age 30, but this has been raised. But the bad news is that… “Individuals who already have a postgraduate Masters qualification … will not be eligible for the new Masters loan.” A great opportunity lost there, I’d say, to re-train those over-50s who were cast aside by the recession. There should have been a 20 year limit, allowing those who earned a Masters before 1996 to take another.

* The government’s consultation PDF says… “Effectively, eligible postgraduate Masters courses will be full-time, at Level 7, typically involving 180 credits of which 150 are at Level 7, and culminate in a Masters qualification.” though they also say part-time courses would be eligible. So I guess it’s down to what they mean by “Effectively”. Also eligible will be “distance learning” courses, potentially useful for a recent graduate who is living back at home in a rural or coastal area, far from a university.

* There will be no means test for the student, and the loan will be paid directly to the student in three tranches.

* There’s to be no bar on earning alongside the course. But payment of each loan tranche will be dependent on the university confirming class attendance and submission of the coursework.

* Covers “the 2016/17 academic year”, so the first students will start late September 2016 and go though to June 2017. But note that the Masters loans scheme is set to run for at least three years, so it seems there’s no rush.

* The loan will bear a 3% interest rate. Repayments would start April 2019, for those graduating June 2017 and who are by then earning more than £21k a year. Remaining loan will be written off after 30 years.