Looking for advice on making a decision between studying for a MSc degree versus PhD. My thoughts are going around in circles to the point of decision paralysis. The main contingency is that I am reliant on government loans in either case.
PhD: I have a very specific research proposal of my own design that I desperately want to work on. As a self-funded student, I would have the unusual luxury of academic freedom. Owing to financial circumstances, I would need to work part time & study part time over 6 years. The main problem is that I don't know if or when the government doctoral loan will be rescinded. A snap election could overturn this policy As such, the uncertainty makes me inclined to apply asap as doctotal accreditation is extremely important for my professional development. However, my project would require intermediate coding skills including machine learning. At present I have taken beginner level short courses online.
MSc: Computer Science or Bioinformatics. This would give an intermediate grounding in coding necessary for my PhD project. Again, I would need to study part time, over 2 years. Since PhD completion rate is only 75% or so, a Masters degree is a safer option as a bridge to doctoral study. However, I don't think it's likely that the current doctoral loan will still be available in 2 years' time. With the state of the global economy, I think it's impossible.
Should I (a) risk taking multiple online short courses in coding & apply to the PhD program (b) study a Masters and risk never being able to pursue my specific research question or never studying at PhD level?
I know you may think either way it's a significant debt burden but I am not looking to ever start a family or own a home, I just want to pursue Science.