Following initial funding setbacks, I didn’t think I would have the chance to study again. I’m now a postgraduate student on the MA Public History and Heritage at the University of Derby.
Nine years ago I moved back to the UK from Australia, and I returned to university to complete my degree in International Fashion Business at Nottingham Trent University, with a view to becoming a teacher after completing that. After gaining a first class honors, I applied to do a PGCE and was due to start the following September, but unfortunately found I wasn’t eligible for the loan. I decided to carry on as a self-employed artist in the meantime.
I never for one moment thought I would have the chance to study again, so I put it to the back of my mind until one of my Instagram pictures caught a University of Derby lecturer’s eye; we got chatting about her course and my work and next thing I am being interviewed and everything is very exciting, from fashion to art to history!
Before I could get too excited about the interview and course I had to sit my husband down to explain that I may be looking to take out a loan of over £10,000 – he was very supportive. It seemed almost unattainable again as I didn’t think I would be eligible for a loan, especially as he works full time and I’m also working.
I did seek support too – I attended a Postgraduate Open Evening and spoke to student finance. I also enquired about childcare and found that my husband can claim childcare vouchers which started to make things look possible.
I applied for a student loan online via the government website, I was amazed that I was accepted and then started to get excited about my studies. I still didn’t believe I would get the money even when I enrolled onto my course. I remember feeling sick with nerves wondering when the payment would come through, thinking all my hopes and dreams would be dashed, but the Student Fees and Finance team at University of Derby assured me that it was all in hand and it was – and here I am now, sick with nerves as I try and get my head around writing essays again!
Remember that as a postgraduate student you have to pay your fees out of your loan so there isn’t much money left if you haven’t got extra support at home. I have to work as well but it seems that’s quite common for those in postgraduate education. It is a huge commitment and not one to be taken lightly – I had to do a lot of rearranging of my life to fit in studying and it has meant that some of the things I was doing before have had to change, but I have been pleasantly surprised at how helpful the University have been. There is a lot of information on the University website and social media feeds, so read as much as you can about it before you make a decision.