January 01, 2009

How "going back..." in the new year is a good thing!

The new year that has just begun is bringing a lot of change. The timing, however, is purely coincidental.

I'm going back to university. Even though I swore only a couple of months ago never to study again I've apparently been toying with the idea for a while now. Mostly subconsciously, I wasn't fully aware of the process. I had been thinking about getting an MA in the UK or the US, sometime in the distant future, when I'd have the money to do it. That was an "If-when-then" plan. I don't know how and when it turned into an idea for the present. Actually I do, I was thinking that going back to uni would make me eligible for public transport student tickets (which are much much cheaper)... but somehow that turned into an honest desire to learn something again.

So I found myself making a call to the university student information desk last week asking about tuition fees. It turns out that the old new government actually delivered on their promise to take them off the table. Of course Austrian tuition was way below what an American or British university would charge - but those were still 400 Euro per term a lot of people couldn't afford.

To go into my opinion on the issue of free access to higher education, university fees and numerus clausus would take some time - especially since I can see and understand all sides of this. But right now I am happy and thankful that I do not have to pay money to continue my education. The way things are now someone going for an MA doesn't have to pay if they stay within the minimum study period of two years plus 2 so-called "tolerance semesters". If they take longer than that because they're working part-time or full-time they can request to continue their studies without tuition fees even beyond that.

So my job would make me eligible for that. My only problem: The University of Vienna doesn't offer an MA program for communications/journalism - not yet, maybe not ever... who knows? By the time I found out about this little issue I was already invested in the idea of studying something though and decided to simply follow up my "Magister" (Austrian degree, between BA and MA, takes four years, a thesis and a final theiss exam) with a BA.

So beginning in March I'm going to be student of political science. This has been a long way coming actually, with my interest in the topic continually rising. And I'm definitely looking forward to using my head that way. I still have to clear it with my boss but given that I only work 20 hours a week it really shouldn't be a problem if I'm attending classes on my days off. I could still be flexible in emergencies, as longs as work would mainly affect courses that don't require attendance.

So take that, 2009! I'm totally gonna kick ass :)
At least I'm terribly exited about trying to do so.

Anyone else got big plans for the new year?


Rebecca said...

Oh my god, I'm so envious! I would LOVE to get an MA in political science, but it's so damn expensive here in the US. I'm going to apply for PhD programs next year since a lot of schools will pay tuition and a small stipend for PhD students, but not many for MA students.

Anyway, that's GREAT news - congratulations!!!

mccutcheon said...

Thanks! But I'm still ages away from an MA, first have get the BA.

I wasn't aware that one can get a PhD without getting an MA first. Or do you have an MA in a different field already? Anyhow, if they pay for it - awesome :) Let me know how it works out for you.

Rebecca said...

I don't know about anywhere else, but in the US you can go straight into a PhD program - they just award a master's halfway through (but a lot - maybe most - programs don't award the master's unless you are going to finish the PhD). Or you can get a master's separately, but if you want to get a PhD it can actually be more difficult to get into a program if you already have the master's in the same subject.

So no, I definitely do NOT have a master's. Just a BA. In theatre. SO useful.

Ruby said...

i'm not exactly sure how i came across your blog but i feel compelled to comment.
i'm insanely jealous of your virtually free post secondary education (one of many reasons why i wish i lived in europe). i'm canadian and paying $4000 in tuition to a school that has been on strike since the beginning of november.

mccutcheon said...

holy shit! 4000 and you're basically not even getting anything??