Postgraduate loans

Last week the government announced a new postgraduate student loan system, with the aim of increasing access to postgraduate university courses.

Further details of the postgraduate scheme announced are below.

  • The loan scheme will come into effect for the 2016-17 academic year
  • Loans of up to £10,000 will be available for all postgraduate taught masters courses
  • Loans are income-contingent, meaning the amount to be paid back by the student depends on their income
  • The loan will be available to students under the age of 30
  • Interest rates will beat commercial rates
  • Graduates will pay back their PG loan alongside their UG loan. This could mean giving around 18% of their monthly income above £21,000 in student loan repayments.

To bridge the gap in 2015-16, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) will allocate £50 million so universities can offer bursaries on a match funded basis. Bursaries will be £10,000 each and will benefit 10,000 students.

More information on the bursaries, including how students can apply, will be available as soon as details are confirmed.

Postgraduate support at BU featured in The i newspaper

The wide variety of help and support available to postgraduate students at BU was featured in The i newspaper.

The feature, which appeared in the newspaper’s postgraduate supplement, looked at how postgraduate students can get support if they feel they are struggling with their studies or are under a lot of pressure.

It listed the wide-ranging services on offer at Bournemouth University – including study skills workshops, counselling and financial advice.

Mandi Barron, Head of Student Support Services at BU, was quoted in the article.

“We can provide practical advice and signpost more specialist services depending on the students’ need,” she said, adding that students should also look to their friends and family for support.

“Some students find that joining a club or society and meeting others with similar interests really helps.”

The article also featured advice from Kyle Michael Williamson, an MSc Enterprise Information Systems student at BU.

He suggested breaking tasks up and using technology to make work more manageable.

He said: “Having access to specialist software off campus helps the ability to work from anywhere and fit your studies around the rest of your life.”

The most important thing for any student who is struggling, Mandi added, was to remember that you are not alone.

“Talk to someone,” she said. “Your problems might seem insurmountable, but universities have a lot of experience and can offer a huge range of support.”


BU Postgraduate students share work at annual conference

Postgraduate students from across BU had the chance to share their work and research with others from across the university at the 6th Annual Postgraduate Conference.

Postgraduate work was shared through a series of talks – based around the BU’s eight research themes – and poster and photograph presentations.

The conference ran over two days, and, for the first time, featured presentations by postgraduate taught students as well as those working on postgraduate research.

Opening the conference, BU’s vice-chancellor Professor John Vinney, said: “It is the 6th Postgraduate Conference but, in my mind, it is the first one that brings together all this talent from across the organisation.

“It is a combination of all our excellent parts of education taking place at the university.”

Work featured in the conference covered everything from analysis of gunshot residue to childbirth in Nepal and changes in visual memory across the lifetime.

Prizes were given to the postgraduate students who had the best posters and photography and gave the best oral presentations.

Mike Rowley prize

Mike Rowley receiving his prize from Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor John Fletcher

Mike Rowley won the award for the best talk, which was about his work looking at planting particular trees in Haiti and Mexico to increase food security and potentially decrease carbon dioxide levels.

 “It was really unexpected,” said Mike, who is completing a Master’s degree in Applied Science by Research. 

“I’m shocked but it’s brilliant, and it was really great to have had the opportunity to present my work.

“Being able to practice presenting is a huge thing so this was a good opportunity to hone your skills and have feedback from your peers and colleagues.”

Fiona Knight, Academic Manager for The Graduate School, said: “The conference aims to bring all of our postgraduate students together, and helps to break down school boundaries.

“It gives them a chance to present their work in a friendly environment and get feedback from their peers.”

Keynote speeches at the conference were given by Kevin Warwick, Professor of Cybernetics at the University of Reading, and Professor Tiantian Zhang, Head of the Graduate School at BU, who spoke about her research journey looking at cryopreservation.

Professor Zhang’s advice to the current postgraduate students included making the most of networking and international opportunities, and remembering that research should be stimulating and fun.

“I think to choose the right research question is an important one,” she said.

“Networking and international collaboration is also important. It creates a lot of opportunity in terms of work and output but also grant applications.

“I do think it’s important to believe in what you do and never give up.”

Find out more about The Graduate School at Bournemouth University

MA Animation graduate award win at Horror Film Festival in Malta


A short film by a recent Bournemouth University graduate has won the Best Animated Film prize at a Horror Film Festival in Malta.

Dark Places was created by Matt Stroud, who has just graduated from the MA 3D Computer Animation course.

It won in the Best Animated Film category at the inaugural Malta Horror Filmfest, which took place over Halloween weekend.

Matt, 24, who is from Malta, said: “Having just finished the course I was really looking to promote myself as much as I could and I found film festivals to be one of the best methods.

“I never expected to actually win anything but when I found out it felt fantastic. It’s always great to get that acknowledgment of your work.”

Dark Places took Matt around three and a half months to complete as his final Master’s project, and focuses on a young boy making his way through the dark.

“Dark Places is horror themed animation about a little boy named Lucas who gets lost in this seemingly infinite dark void with only a lantern to guide his way, but he soon realizes that he isn’t alone,” Matt said.

“The idea partly came from my childhood experiences of being afraid of the dark and was also inspired by my love of horror films.”

Matt added that he hoped to use the skills he learnt on his BU course and the recognition of his work to help build the animation industry in Malta.

“The course made a huge difference to my potential career path,” he said.

“I went from knowing next to nothing about technology, techniques and theory of animation to having a whole new skillset and feeling confident with my ability to work within the animation industry.”

He added: “Thanks to the award more people got to hear about me so you never know what that might lead to, although on principle I put more weight on my work rather than what awards they might win.

“With the skills I have gained I hope to be in a position to help strengthen the animation industry in my country, which is currently still in its infancy.”

Watch Matt’s winning film Dark Places

BU student receives BAFTA scholarship


A budding animator has been able to realise her dream of studying at Bournemouth University after receiving a £7,500 scholarship from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).

Mawusime Blewuada, 29, will start her MA in 3D Computer Animation at BU at the end of the month after receiving the BAFTA grant towards her course fees.

The money has come from the BAFTA Scholarship Programme, which assists talented people in need of financial support to study a postgraduate course in film, television or games.

Mawusime is one of just ten students from across the UK to receive a BAFTA scholarship this year.

She said: “I was obviously very delighted to hear I had been chosen – I knew there was a lot of competition so I wasn’t certain I would get it.

“Receiving the scholarship meant I didn’t have to defer taking the course or take out an expensive loan to cover tuition fees.

“I can focus on studying without stressing too much about finance.”

Along with the money towards her course fees, Mawusime will receive mentoring support from BAFTA members and free access to BAFTA events around the UK.

The scholarship recipients will also share their learning experiences on BAFTA Guru, BAFTA’s online learning channel, and participate in future BAFTA outreach with young people.

Mawusime, from Thornton Heath in London, hopes to work in animated films and the visual effects industry after completing her Master’s degree.

She said: “I’ve chosen to study 3D Animation at BU because it has the reputation of being a challenging and comprehensive course that provides the teaching and resources I require. I’m really looking forward to collaborating on projects with other students from the National Centre for Computer Animation [based at Bournemouth University].

“In addition, the mentor support provided by BAFTA will be a great personal and professional advantage.”

Anne Morrison, Chair of BAFTA’s Learning and Events Committee, said: “This year’s scholarship recipients have great talents which, without the right support, were at risk of being lost from our industries.

“Through the BAFTA Scholarship Programme they now have access to funding, industry events and one-to-one mentoring, to help them make a tremendous contribution to our moving image industries.”

BU graduate goes write way to win BAFTA competition


By Dean Eastmond

A Bournemouth University Master’s graduate has won a nationwide BAFTA competition to find Britain’s most promising comedy writers.

Christiana Brockbank impressed judges including comediennes Jennifer Saunders and Jessica Hynes to be named one of the winners in the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum competition.

Christiana, who completed an MA in Writing for the Media at BU in 2010, beat more than 500 entries to be named one of the five winners of the competition, which searched for the UK’s most promising upcoming comedy writers.

She said: “It’s been a bit surreal – you go from trying to get people to read your work to suddenly having lots of people asking you if they can read your script, and that makes every single rejection letter before that absolutely worth it.”

Christiana, 26, will now see her sitcom – Binwomen – performed in front of other comedians, writers and industry bosses at this year’s Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival.

The comedy follows compulsive hoarder Janet as she works on the bins, and the industry panel will include comedian John Bishop and Shane Allen, Controller of Comedy at the BBC.

Christiana will also receive one-to-one mentoring sessions with comedy commissioners and independent production companies and the chance to have a full script commission paid for by the BBC.

Christiana, who is from Bolton and now lives in Ealing, London, said her time at BU helped her develop her creativity.

“What I enjoyed most about the course was being in an environment where you were encouraged to collaborate and be creative. I made some lifelong friends there who I hope I’ll get to work with again,” said Christiana, who currently works in retail while writing in the evenings.

“After graduating from Bournemouth, I continued to keep writing short films, radio sketches and sitcoms before becoming a copywriter and living like a real adult for a while.

“In the end, I gave it up and decided to move to London with the hope of one day doing what felt most right – trying to write stuff that’s funny and maybe even getting paid for the privilege.”

The BAFTA Rocliffe Sitcom Showcase takes place at the Guardian Edinburgh International TV Festival on Thursday 22 August.

Find out more about the competition

Dean is a student at Budmouth College in Weymouth, who is working at Bournemouth University in the Press and PR Department. He joined BU on a Sir Samuel Mico Scholarship, which provides 10 students from his college with essential work experience for four weeks over the summer.

Dr Mark Readman on part time and distance learning in The i newspaper

By Dean Eastmond

Senior lecturer in media education, Dr Mark Readman, highlighted to The i newspaper how accessible part time and distance learning postgraduate courses are becoming in today’s world for people in work.

“It’s harder and harder for people to take a year or two out of a career in order to study fill time”, he told the newspaper. “Therefore we launched a suite of postgraduate part-time distance learning courses to cater for this market”

Readman then goes onto explain how distance learning courses are not just face-to-computer courses and that long distance students at Bournemouth University receive a lot of face-to-face interaction with staff.

Whether this is on Skype, email, phone or in person, these postgraduate courses are far more interactive and personal than what people may think.

“Whether they’re studying for career reasons or personal development, distance learning lets them fit study into their often already busy lives”.

The report explains how at Bournemouth University MA courses such as creative and media education and screenwriting begin with residential trips to create and fortify bonds and interaction with students and teachers.

Dean is a student at Budmouth College in Weymouth, who is working at Bournemouth University in the Press and PR Department. He joined BU on a Sir Samuel Mico Scholarship, which provides 10 students from his college with essential work experience for four weeks over the summer.

BU Postgraduate student shares her experience with The i newspaper

By Dean Eastmond

Bournemouth University featured in The i newspaper, with student Francesca Savy talking about her experience on the MSc Business Management course.

Francesca, from the Seychelles, said she enjoys the diversity of her course.

“My options in future are wide open. I could go into marketing”, she explained. “I could go into finance – this course could take me in a number of different directions in any country”.

Francesca told The i that there is only one UK student on her course, adding:

“I was keen to take an international business programme, because I wanted to look into different areas of business”

She continued by telling the newspaper that her postgraduate study at Bournemouth University is based on the high reputation the university has and how there are many accessible opportunities for international students in Bournemouth.

“The Student Union, as well as the teaching faculty, is there to support you and look after you. They take time to know your name. Little things like that really help you feel comfortable.”

Francesca is currently working on her dissertation and is due to graduate in November of this year and cannot wait to enter the world of business.

Dean is a student at Budmouth College in Weymouth, who is working at Bournemouth University in the Press and PR Department. He joined BU on a Sir Samuel Mico Scholarship, which provides 10 students from his college with essential work experience for four weeks over the summer.

Renowned comedy writer inspires students during talk at BU


Comedy writer Laurence Marks – who helped create some of Britain’s best loved sitcoms – shared his experiences with postgraduate students at Bournemouth University.

Laurence, who created the likes of Birds of a Feather and Goodnight Sweetheart with writing partner Maurice Gran, talked about his career to Master’s students from across BU’s Media School.

Laurence, who was a journalist before moving into writing, said the pair were inspired to begin writing together after winning competitions at a writing and acting workshop that they only attended because it was cheaper than heating their flats.

“I was a journalist, so I was at least writing and putting words on a page but I was a crime reporter, which is a long way from comedy,” he said.

“What I found was that the moment I sat down at my typewriter and started to write, not only did it flow out of me as if it had been welling up, but I had to write comedy. It was just flowing out of me.”

The pair’s first big hit was Shine On Harvey Moon, in 1982, and they then moved to Hollywood – where they were part of the team of writers working on Cheers.

After 14 months, they moved back to the UK and worked with Rik Mayall on political sitcom The New Statesman, which went on to win the BAFTA for Best Comedy Series.

Laurence told the students that, while writing in a partnership could be difficult, he would not want to do it alone.

“That instant feedback in comedy is your first audience,” he said.

“If he doesn’t laugh, ten million people aren’t going to laugh. I like to be in a room where there is somebody with you, crafting something. It’s more fun.”

“It helps if you know the person you are working with for a long, long time, as you have the same reference points.”

He added: “It was very difficult at first. Someone once said a writing partnership should be exactly the same as a marriage – except you never take your clothes off in front of each other.

“We argue all the time – the whole dynamic is argument and debate about what is going to work.”

He also likened writing to building a house – saying that you need an architect to make sure the structure is right before starting to decorate.

“Writing is the easy bit, like decorating,” he said. “But there is a lot of work to do before then in making sure the structure is right – it’s the planning, the story, the characters.”

His advice to the students – who came from Master’s courses including scriptwriting, cinematography and directing – was to find their own voice, and create characters that people wanted to watch.

“It is really first and foremost about character. You are building up this piece of a real person – because without truth, comedy doesn’t work,” he said.

“What we did was acknowledged what was being made and then wrote something different.

“Do what you want to do but it has to conform to what is, after all, a 28 minute show divided into 3 parts with great characters.”