What is a panic masters and why is everyone talking about it?

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Panic masters: a knee-jerk reaction to a terrifying job market or the best decision you ever make?


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Here Lee McMahon, the EU/EU Student Recruitment Manager at Ravensbourne, discusses the rising trend of the 'panic masters'. He discusses why, amidst all the uncertainty surrounding the jobs market, choosing a masters could be the best decision you ever make.


Everyone has been tested in one way or another during the last year and a half. Our whole worlds have turned upside down. If someone told you at your 2019 New Year’s party as the clock struck midnight what was in store, you’d ask them what was in their drink!

But here we are, over a year on and everything still seems pretty confusing. While undoubtedly the last year has been a challenging time for everyone, the under 25’s have been hit pretty hard. Nearly two thirds of covid-19 related job losses have been for this age group.

This paints a terrifying picture for the class of 2020 and 2021, who have graduated in some of the strangest times in the last 100 years. With almost all industries affected, fresh graduates are understandably anxious about their job prospects and in what direction to head in now.

The rise of the ‘panic masters’

With many offices still working remotely, and thousands of internships cancelled or changed to online positions, understandably there is a lot of head scratching going on among graduates right now.

You may have heard the term ‘panic masters’, for those graduates that make a last-minute decision to study a masters and delay the inevitable. But whereas the word ‘panic’ might suggest a spontaneous and somewhat ill-informed decision, in reality it could be the best one you ever make.

Between 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, the number of students deciding to continue their education and enrol on postgraduate courses has increased by 10%. The pandemic and the mayhem it has caused has meant the number of students choosing to do a masters this year is expected to skyrocket. 

With a survey in May 2020 finding that 78.5% of students were worried about fewer vacancies, it’s hardly a surprise that more and more graduates are choosing to take themselves out of the rat race for another year.

You might have had your future all planned out for you, but now everything is up in the air. So what are your options: try to find any employment just for the cash? Or take a step back, decompress and consider your next move.

So stop your doomscrolling for just a second and read on to find out why a masters could me the right move for you.

1. Level up

Even if you’ve never considered a masters before, leveling-up will give you more than a fighting chance. It will set you above and beyond the rest of your cohort and it could awaken in you a passion for a more specialist subject that you never even knew you had.

2. Worthwhile investment

While the price of a masters might initially be a bit daunting, it is a worthwhile investment. It is favoured by many employers, meaning it will stand you apart from other job applicants and ultimately could result in a higher salary too.

3. Avoid having a gap in your CV

While things might return to normality just as quickly as everything changed, at this point we just don't know. Yes, you could wait around for this to all blow over, but then you could be left with a sizeable gap in your CV.

Choosing to do a masters will ensure that your CV is bursting with potential. But it will also give you time for the creative market to stabilise and for investment in these sectors to kick-start again. It's a win win, really.

4. Find your passion

When I’ve spoken to recent graduates, alongside the obvious anxieties around the jobs market, there also seems to be a lack of career readiness and general confidence. A masters isn’t just about getting another qualification, it’s also about honing your skills and really understanding what your passionate about – and how that can be translated into a fulfilling career.

5. Reclaim your university experience

The pandemic has robbed us of many things – our freedoms, our ability to our friends and families to name just a few. For those graduating in 2020 and 2021, it is likely to have robbed them of their full university experience too. A masters offers students a second chance at that. While it is hard work, it is also a brilliant opportunity to form close bonds with like-minded people on your course and have some fun together.

6. More flexibility

At Ravensbourne we really understand the added pressures graduates face as a result of the pandemic – not just for graduates but for anyone wanting to continue their education. Now more than ever people are having to juggle multiple jobs and responsibilities.

This is why we’ve introduced a part-time option, meaning those with already busy schedules have the opportunity to study for a masters too. From September we are launching five part-time options. This will give students even more access to specialist leadership, creative practice and change-making programmes to transform their career. These will take place in our brand-new, purpose-built Institute for Creativity and Technology building.

7. Gain valuable real-world experience

Many graduates rely on entry-level jobs and internships to get that valuable real-world experience. However, a recent survey found that 26% of those surveyed had lost their internships due to the pandemic. So without these opportunities, how is it possible to get that necessary experience?

At Ravensbourne, we have designed our postgraduate courses to replicate the real-world to ensure you have the right experience you need once you graduate. Our lecturers and course leaders all have a wealth of industry experience too, so you'll be learning from the best. Our masters programmes will help you to upskill, reskill and gain executive skills to really stand you apart from the competition.

8. Scholarships available

While the cost of a masters can be quite overwhelming, the good news is that scholarships are available.

To celebrate the launch of our new Institute for Creativity and Technology and our specialist postgraduate studies suite, we have launched new scholarships for all our ICT courses. We also offer a 20% fee discount to any alumni that have graduated up to five years ago.

9. Apply for a Postgraduate Master’s Loan 

It is also possible to receive support from the government in the form of the Postgraduate Master’s Loan. This works in the same way as an undergraduate student loan, meaning it is paid directly to you, and repaid as a percentage of your earnings (only once you are earning a certain amount).

Your future's bright

While many students will be feeling a mix of dread and disappointment as they graduate this year, remember, all is not lost! It might not feel like it right now, but things will get better and you will still find your dream job, maybe one that even suits you a bit better. 

Deciding to do a masters degree could be just the ticket to solve your short-term solution of what to do next. Better than that, it could open new doors and catapult you to places you never even knew existed.

Intrigued? Get in touch

Find out more about the scholarships and loans available to postgraduate students.