A couple of years ago I turned 50 and all my student debt was wiped out. Now I'm working in libraries, and - as many of you will know - it's not the most secure field to be in right now. I have drifted in and out of many jobs over the years - some good, some unutterably awful - and I'd like to stay with this. The general consensus at work is that an MA would improve my chances of being kept on, as well as opening up other fields, e.g. working in academia.
Thing is, a distance learning MA currently runs at about £7.5K... I can get a postgrad loan for ten grand or so, but it means getting back into debt. I have, however, rationalised the plan thus: granted the loan wouldn't expire until I was in my 80s (assuming I last that long), but in reality retirement in mid 60s should realistically mean the end of any possibility of having to pay it back. Add to this that I'd have to be earning over £21000 to even trigger repayments (I'm not earning this as a library manager on 4 days/week), and it's starting to look like free money!
Does this seem like a reasonable plan, or have I made some glaring oversight?
oh hey slacker I missed this, so i'm gonna wade in with my tuppence worth.
i'v have been reading a lot lately (mostly on the guardian) about the current behaviour of the student loans companies. basically its a farce. people are paying off their loans but the companies are denying it. they are saying they've been paid off and then sending round the heavies because they say money still owed no-one knew about. not to mention the fact that these loans were taken out from the government who then sold them on to private loans companies. plus the interest rates are much higher than banking interest rates.
I wouldn't put it past any of the providers to change the rules half way through. you currently only pay back once you hit a threshold as you say, but whose to say that won't change and it suddenly be pay back no matter what.
my friend earns too little, by a long margin, to pay back her loans, but every now and then she does a burst of overtime and the tax office bot thinks shes on a higher income and the loan deduction kicks in that month and she's left with a fraction of her loan paid off and nothing to show for overtime.
plus what a stupid system it is that in order for a library manager earning less than 21grand pa, 'needs' a masters degree to keep their job! ffs, do they think you can do the job or not. what skills can you get from the MA (genuine question, I don't know?) that will make you be able to do the job better? that we have a system that requires this is beyond stupid. plus its shit pay for such a highly qualified job. bastards.
I was thinking about the low wage for the level of qualification, and it does seem to be that 'academic work' is now regarded almost as a leisure choice. many jobs that require skills, experience and yes, qualifications seem to be heading that way. anything vaguely charitable from end of life care to conservation to mental health to history rely predominately of volunteer workers, but want those volunteers to be highly skilled and qualified.
long gone are the days when a 16 year old could leave school and go and work for little pay in a zoo, and work their way up to head zookeeper, with a proper wage, over time. (oddly specific I know but based on a conversation I had with a 19 year old who want to work in zoo welfare, and the list of qualications and unpaid experience and volunteer programmes she must have to even be considered for what would be, like slacker, not well paid.)
sorry, none of this is help to your question slacker! but I've been pondering the need to get a degree myself. at 45 with a good 20 years plus ahead till retirement age it wouldn't be time wasted but in the field i'm interested in (conservation, wildlife, ecology) it seems the paid jobs just aren't there. youngster with far more energy than I and actual relevant skills, can't get paid work. its just one volunteer placement after another.
note the ceo's of these charities don't work for free.
when I did the first 30 points of an open university degree a few years ago (i'm not even sure if those points even count now, too much time has passed. not sure?) course fees were much lower. the OU income threshold was very generous and I got a government grant, a grant! which paid the course fees AND the OU gave me some expenses money!
these days a 60 point (eg one sixth of a degree) course cost 3 grand at the OU and there are no grants.
the 20 grand ish students loans I would have to take is much lower than a conventional degree but its still a lot of money, for what might turn out to be just for fun.
(also I read elsewhere the theory that the charity industry of all type which relies on volunteers, will perhaps collapse in a decade or so because predominately current volunteers come from the retirement brigade, but soon they'll be older retirement and those that do are often continueing work too and full time grandchildren raisers. they'll be no one to volunteer work. but I digress. I probably should've got brexit in there too)
but my rant doesn't help slacker at all, it just got me thinking is all.
Slacker, I can't help but I would say is there somewhere you can get specific advice on this? I have no clue if there are careers services for us oldies but it might be helpful to at least look into it. The plan sounds good so I really hope it works out for you.
Good rant, confused and I would like to join in but I don't think the internet has enough space for me to say all I could on the subject. I work for a charity. We rely on volunteers and it irks me that I see 'big jobs' in our charity advertised with what I consider to be huge salaries, whereas most of the staff most definitely aren't. It's taken me nearly 5 years to get my hourly rate up to living wage standards. 5 years. You're right about the possible volunteer shortage. Ours are from age 60+ with quite a few in their 80's, and a couple in their 90's! We won't have the luxury of being able to volunteer so will charities change tack and start hiring staff instead? My workplace keeps increasing opening hours with little consideration that volunteers may not want to work longer. That is the beauty of volunteering - you can say no, but the staff have to pick up the slack. It ain't gonna work.
I see a lot of charity shop jobs now hiring paid staff. of course its minimum wage because theyre chariddee. there is a new charity 'superstore'! opening soon in town, and has pretty much a full range of jobs advertised. but its still only 7.50 ph because of the charidee element.
I really would enjoy being 'crap sorter extraordinare' but I need more income not less
also a religious charity which doesn't sit great with me but I could certainly get over that if it was well paid.
places like yours rely of volunteers because 'customers' expect something for their 'donations' whereas people are willing to simply donate money to the local hospice charity or rspca or whatever.
plus your organisation needs experienced experts (maybe not in the shop as such, but you know what I mean) yet won't pay them the graduate level wage they should be able to expect.
Thanks for all your thoughts, guys. I should clarify my thinking a bit here... I'm thinking about this not so much in terms of staying in my current job - the upcoming service review (ie cuts) will likely see me out of that - but rather to improve my chances of staying in the sector in general, and also to open up new possibilities such as working in academic libraries. I've loved these past few years; I certainly can't remember the last time I was this happy at work. Add to this that the only other thing I'm qualified to do is teach in FE, and I can't even think about going back to that mess.
I wouldn't put it past any of the providers to change the rules half way through. you currently only pay back once you hit a threshold as you say, but whose to say that won't change and it suddenly be pay back no matter what
I did think about this, and wondered if the SLC might try it on at some point in the future. As we stand, they haven't, instead issuing newer loans on progressively worse terms than the ones I took out as an undergraduate back in the early 90s: automatic deductions from salary, longer terms before the loans become void etc. I can't see then getting away with lowering the payment threshold, if anything I think they might increase the length of time before the loan becomes void, which in my case won't matter anyway - once I retire they've no chance of getting anything.
100% agree with the quality rant BTW! Museums and libraries both have volunteers in place in my authority & I fear that it won't be long before public services are limited to bin emptying.
I decided to go for it! I just got back from my first study week last Friday, which was pretty intense, but it was very reassuring to meet many of my fellow students, often with the same concerns I had. We got introductory sessions on several of the modules we'll be studying, meeting the lecturers in the process, and some study skills stuff, which was much appreciated.
It's going to be quite a lot of work, but I have started the first module, and I'm enjoying it so far!