A new £1 million Covid-19 hardship fund has launched at Cambridge University to help postgraduate students in their final year to complete their research after the pandemic caused disruption to their progress.
More than 60% of self-funded doctoral students at Cambridge University have been unable to finish their course and graduate due to the pandemic.
The Cambridge Student Union has lobbied for months for the university to help resolve funding issues for students, which have been exacerbated by Covid-19.
Thankfully, fully or partially self-funded students can now apply for up to £3,700 to help them complete their research.
Postgraduate funding gap
But the issue of postgraduate funding stretches beyond Cambridge and the troubles caused by the pandemic during the past 12 to 18 months.
The gap between the government’s £11,570 master’s loan and the overall cost of studying for a Master’s degree leaves many students with a shortfall even at the best of times.
It means many students either need to rely on part-time work to help plug the gap or be fortunate enough to have savings or money gifted from family.
However, specialist forms of education finance can offer a viable, flexible solution for postgrads in need of additional funding.
For investors looking for opportunities to help drive social good and generate healthy financial returns, education finance offers an ideal solution.
For example, through our platform we pair retail investors with borrowers seeking to fund postgraduate education or professional qualifications. It provides a solution for prospective students who wouldn’t be able to afford to study without the help of private funding.
Ultimately, it helps talented, ambitious individuals to pursue their career aspirations and enhance their future income potential.
Championing social impact investing
The current boom in the popularity of ESG funds and the rise of impact investing shows that investors do care more deeply about where their money goes than ever before.
However, the ESG spotlight often shines most brightly on the ‘E’ and it’s important that as well as the environment, social issues around housing, education and healthcare are also supported by investors.
Global warming is arguably the biggest challenge facing the world today but many of the societal problems we face are interconnected.
It’s why we shouldn’t forget the ‘S’ in ESG and to make sure this happens we need to continue to champion social impact investing.
In the case of education finance, improving access to professional training and postgraduate study is vital to solving big global challenges. To make the world a better place we must support bright young minds to acquire the knowledge and understanding needed to improve the world around us.
Benefits for investors
Meanwhile for peer-to-peer investors, education finance offers healthy financial returns. In our case, investors are currently achieving estimated returns of approximately 8% a year from a diversified pool of loans, with investments in individual loans going up to 10% a year.
Another benefit is that the potential risk for investors is reduced due to how the borrower is using the loan. It provides the individual with the chance to increase their earning potential and improve their financial stability.
With the new 2021 academic year approaching and the next cohort of students looking for funding, now is an ideal time to invest in education finance and support social good.