Applying for a Diploma in Jazz and Pop music

I’m glad to have finally enrolled on the part-time diploma in jazz and pop at Goldsmiths College, which starts October 2011. I applied in July and had received an conditional offer (woohoo!) so was quite excited about starting the course. That was until I heard that another student had received a bill for £5000 because of already having a degree. What? That’s big fee inflation. A friend finally pointed me in the direction of something called ELQs – equivalent or lower qualifications and things began to look clearer but not better.

Goldsmiths University of London logo

What is the ELQ policy?

Equivalent or lower qualifications (ELQ) was a policy brought in by the previous government (Labour) in 2008. It means that if you have already completed a degree programme, any further equivalent or lower qualification you apply for is not supported by the government, so the insitution you applied to do the course at would have to charge up to the full international student fee rate rather the the home student rate.

The first this made me think was that the government were trying to stop people from changing careers since that’d be what most people would be trying to do through studying a second degree. But why on earth would you start limiting access to study for a career change at the time of recession when people were losing their jobs and trying to find new ways of being employable. Apparently “the thinking behind ELQs was that there would be more funds for those who want to do first degrees” (Second degrees: there’s no going back, Anne Wollenberg for The Guardian, 2009). Hmph! So you could only do another degree if you had lots of money? Looks suspiciously elitist to me.

Back to the diploma. I searched online about ELQs and found information from different specific academic institutions execpt Goldsmiths. I had been preparing a funding application for the course fee of £850 as advertised in the Goldsmiths prospectus and online. There was no information about “international fees”. But based on what had happened to another student trying to enrol I was likely to fall under “ELQ status” – I not only had a BSc (Hons) but I also an MA from the same university – amd it was likely that the course was going to cost around £5000, nearly 6 times more than I was expecting! That’s quite a difference.

The idea of doing the diploma started to wane and I could not find the rationale to look for funding of a £5000 diploma. I shelved my funding research, which had been focused on grants under £1000. Other potential students in the same boat had already began the process of investigating this “ELQ” business along with tutors and other staff at Goldsmiths. It wasn’t the university’s fault – this had been brought in by the government. Finally, I began to hear that some courses were exempt from applying the ELQ status and after a couple of weeks of uncertainty I finally received an email that confirmed that the diploma was one of them. Phew!

It turned out that the diploma had been missed off the original exemption list back in 2008/9 because it had not run for a while. It’s fortunate that this was discovered otherwise several of us wouldn’t have been able to afford the course which, subsequently might have meant there wouldn’t be enough students to run the course. Smiles all round then!

Back on track

So I’ve picked up my funding research and application with relieved that the course fee is £850 and with the hope of raising the funds. It might be the last year this diploma runs at Goldsmiths because the department that manages it, Professional and Community Education (PACE), has an uncertain future and I’ve watched as many great, long-time music tutors have been made redundant.


Last year I signed up as a pianist and tap dancer on the Performance Ensemble 2: Jazz & Pop course and ended up doing some vocal and drumming as well. This year I hope to continue developing as a musician (including tap) by gaining more experience in arranging, composing, directing and playing in an ensemble.

Diploma in Jazz and Popular Music at Goldsmiths College, London, UK

Course day/time: Saturday/Sunday 10.00-5.00
Dates: every third weekend, October 2011-June 2012
Fees: £850 (ELQ exempt, hooray!)
Accreditation: College Diploma
Where: Goldsmiths, University of London, New Cross, London, SE14 6NW, UK. Telephone: + 44 (0)20 7919 7171

This one-year part-time programme offers more advanced study in jazz and popular music styles and their practical application. It is a natural progression from the Certificate in Music Studies. You should have playing skills and skills in reading, arranging, scoring and transcription at least equivalent to those provided by the Certificate.

The programme is also suitable for musicians working in a professional and semi-professional capacity who want to develop their musicianship and performing skills and theoretical knowledge.

The programme emphasises learning by doing, and welcomes musicians from a wide variety of jazz and pop backgrounds. The study of arranging and composition in a variety of styles is included, along with development of advanced skills in playing, improvisation and musical direction and production. Classes are spread over 11 weekends, and include workshops and lectures from professional musicians working in the jazz, pop and world music genres.

What you study

General Musicianship involving lectures and practical work on: advanced jazz and popular music harmony, counterpoint and instrumentation, preparation of scores and parts, and rehearsal techniques.

Performance Ensembles involving practical aspects of the realisation of musical ideas with a band or ensemble. The emphasis is on learning by doing, including: the role of instruments in jazz and popular music, the production and direction of arrangements and compositions, and rehearsal and interpersonal skills.

Archive information on ELQs

Tap is music AND dance

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