Daily Archives: 05/06/2011

My Life Thus Far, Next Steps, And Funding It

Gosh, time has flown by, with it being nearly 5 months since I last posted on my blog. In this time many things have happened; the Royal wedding, another ash cloud has threatened transport across the UK and Apple have previewed the next of its operating systems OSX Lion. All very exciting in different levels, however that is not what this post is about; it has two aims, firstly to update you with what I have been doing, secondly what my next steps are and the barriers which have been placed in my way. Final Months At University: Being a final year student and heavily involved in student politics it seemed only right that I ran for office within the Students Union. Previously there were four Vice President positions available, one for each of the faculties The University of Salford had. However due to the restructuring into three collages, the number of VP positions had been reduced by one. Campaigning was a successful, tiring and very educational experience, however it wasn’t meant to be, with me coming fourth by around 30 votes from over 2000 cast. Naturally I was disappointed, however I was happy in the knowledge that if the restructuring had not taken place I would have got in. All was not lost tho, as even though becoming Vice President was on my life path, it wasn’t the only stopping point. Carer Steps: Career wise I had always been interested in both business and law. My love of business and management was encouraged by Martin Port the former Managing Director and Founder of Masternaut Three X. Martin gave me the chance to work within a team as well as see the inns of highly successful business during four years of summer jobs. This did mean that I had did not take a traditional holiday abroad, instead working was my holiday as the knowledge  and stimulation which I got was far more beneficial than sitting by a pool. Whilst working in business is still one of my dreams, I do feel the need to have something more academic to fall back on, which is perhaps a value that my parents gave me. The message I picked up (whether it was intended or not) was “having an education you can be proud of and fall back on is priceless”. The world of business is a risky one, so having qualifications under your belt to go into a profession gives not only peace of mind, but several transferable skills. Law was the subject which I enjoyed the most, a theory that was confirmed when I did work experience at Kings Chambers in Leeds for a week and sat in on some high-profile cases. The skills that the barristers showed collecting evidence, researching previous judgements, putting their arguments across and thinking quickly on their feet was something that in my opinion was one of the most impressive professions I had seen (to understand what I mean, watch an episode or two of Kavanagh QC). Sadly my A-level grades were not enough to allow me to do a straight law degree, however after consulting family friends in the legal field it was decided that this was not the best option anyway. By doing a degree in something other than law it would allow a much greater understanding of the world as a whole. Therefore at University I studied business, with one module of law in the first year, and four in the third year. Now that I have completed my third year of studies and finished my undergraduate degree, the time has come to take the next steps on the ladder to become a barrister. Postgraduate Study, And Funding It: After much research I applied to do my GDL (graduate diploma in law) at Manchester Metropolitan University – one of the most successful GDL providers and was offered a place. Here lieth the problem. Cost. As with everything in the world today, education costs money. Previously education was funded by the government in the forms of grants being awarded to those who were academically able, with the cost of the grant being repaid in the form of increased tax contribution from a higher paid job. Today student loans are offered to cover the cost of tuition, interest is charged at the rate of inflation making it cost effective for all, however this is only available for Undergraduate studies. The cost of the one year GDL is £4,550, with the BPTC (Bar Professional Training Course) to be taken after the GDL currently costs £10,300. Therefore I am looking at an education bill of £14,850 BEFORE accommodation and living costs are included. Where am I supposed to find this kind of money? Student loans are not offered for postgraduate degrees meaning that funding can come from one of two places, grants or private. Lets look at the grants first. The vast majority (if not all) of grants available are means tested. A method which on principle I believe in, funding should of course go to those who need it most. The method of means testing tho is a principle which I disagree with completely, as the means are tested against ‘household income’. For most grants funding is divided into two categories, those with households less than £20k a year, and those between £20k and £40k a year. I am fortunate enough to have two highly successful parents in the medical profession giving us a household income of more than the higher limit, however I am not part of their household. I am an independent student, living away from home during term time, attempting to stand on my own two feet. At the age of 21 there is no correlation between my parents salaries and the ‘style of life’ which I lead as a student. I took out the student loan to pay for my undergraduate degree, and used savings from my summer jobs to pay for living expenses. In my opinion students means should be tested […]