Staying on to study a Masters - home or away?

Written By

Think Postgrad

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why do a masters degree?
  • Benefits of studying a masters degree?
  • How to find a masters degree?

Spending three or four years on an undergraduate degree at University means your surroundings will be very familiar. Staying on to study a masters at the same place looks like a simple decision, but is it a wise one? Here are some ideas for looking elsewhere for your masters course.

Home or Away?

The UK offers a huge choice of possible subjects and locations for undergraduate degrees. The course is only one of many factors that effect this decision.

Many UK students select a university based on the facilities, the campus experience, the social life and welfare support as well as the course. Location is important if the student has family ties or financial considerations. Sometimes it’s much harder to relocate away from home for an undergraduate degree.

At Masters level the priorities are different. Our previous Masters Compare Scholarship winner Emma chose a different university to continue her studies. Among other reasons she wanted a Graduate School for her masters as she is a mature student.

Facilities – they make a difference to your future destination

Many traditional Universities operate on a faculty model, with masters courses that reflect the ‘expertise’ invested in the individual schools and departments. Masters students will have opportunities to contribute to the creation of new knowledge, and potentially complete a research degree.

UK Universities established in the last 60 years have a similar structure, with a course portfolio that is focussed on creating opportunities for work. Subjects in the service industries, business and creative sectors often mirror the needs of the wider local economy. Facilities on offer are geared more towards specific employers and within niche areas.

Historically, long-established universities led the way in research. However there are many examples of modern universities that have achieved international research excellence through their association with specific industries. They have invested in amazing facilities and developed partnerships with new companies, that support cutting edge R&D and also provide valuable high-tech careers.

Placements and work experience - available at masters level

You can also consider masters courses that include a period out in industry on a work placement. These are becoming an important feature of many masters courses because they enable students from home and overseas to complete a secondment with an employer to work on a project.

This secondment often forms the basis of the written dissertation which is usually the final component of a masters degree. The dissertation contributes up to a third of the overall credits awarded.

Choosing to study a masters course at a university that has a reputation in a specialist field will offer you a rewarding study experience. There will be great opportunities for networking with employers in that area after you have graduated.

Cost – Masters Loans remove the headache of tuition fees

Universities offer alumni discounts of around 10% and scholarships as incentives to stay on. One way for providers to entice prospective students to a completely new location is through merit. Most universities offer generous scholarships for high achievers, in specific subjects where the demand for qualified graduates is high.

The Masters Loan on offer from the UK Government takes away the fee barrier to entry from many students. This allows candidates to consider courses from right across the UK. Showing that you have taken the bold step to relocate for study is looked upon positively by employers.

Affordability is more than just the tuition fee – the costs of studying a masters includes accommodation, subsistence, travel etc. The availability of part time work could be an important factor and this will make a difference to employers who will notice candidates that have shown themselves to be self-sufficient.

Choosing to study abroad

Overseas postgraduate students choose to study a masters in the UK and elsewhere to get the benefit of an international education. If you have the academic ability and means to pay for a course, then studying abroad will open up many opportunities for future career development. Merit-based Scholarships for international students are widely available.

The UK has updated its approach to international students wanting to study in the UK. Recent changes in visa status means that studying in the UK and potentially staying on for further study and work is encouraged.

Universities are encouraging applications from international students to courses starting in the new year. This is in response to the challenges of the global pandemic - many overseas students had difficulties in completing their studies because of the closure of colleges and exam centres.

A comprehensive choice of masters courses attracts a diverse student body. Students studying humanities and social sciences is mixed with engineering and physical sciences and health & medicine. This blend of courses improves the international reputation of a university by offering facilities and expertise across a wide range of specialisms.

What is the best way to experience a masters course at a different university?

Virtual Open Days are now sophisticated experiences that give candidates the opportunity to gather all the facts about a course or department without the challenges of travel and work priorities. Once registered you will be able to recap on any presentations you missed and get in touch with the named academic staff and colleagues within the admissions team.

The quality of virtual open days has improved greatly in the past year - a positive outcome from the switch to online study caused by the pandemic. For the first-time universities that are geographically opposite can seem as close as next door.

Recruitment staff located in-country are available to answer individual queries during normal working hours. Most of the top UK Universities have remote working teams located in different parts of the world.

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