An increasing number of UK students are prevented from entering postgraduate education due to a lack of funds, new research reveals.
According to the Higher Education Commission (HEC), the UK is heading towards “a perfect storm” because of increasing postgraduate fees and the difficulty for students of funding their degrees with personal money or through loans.
Dr Graham Spittle, Inquiry Chair said: “This situation is markedly out of step with our ambition as a nation to be ‘the leading knowledge-based economy of the world.’
“It is also out of step with the actions of our global competitors, who are also transforming their economies to focus on higher value goods and services. Realising this vision requires us to not only maintain the vibrancy of our postgraduate sphere, but enhance it. This will not happen organically – we need to ensure that the conditions for a healthy and successful postgraduate sector are in place.”
Undergraduate students at Goldsmiths, University of London, agree that money is the major issue when considering a postgraduate degree.
Kelsey Labuschagne, senior psychology student said: “There is no way I could afford it. Perhaps if I got sponsored while doing it by my future employer, but money definitely prevents me from even contemplating it. There’s no way I could support myself, nor could my family.”
“I think I would only do a postgrad if I had a guaranteed job at the end. There is too much of a risk that the qualification won’t be needed because of high rates of unemployment and the issue of being overqualified.”
According to a last year’s postgraduate survey made by: The Student Room, the biggest online student community, 65.8% of those not doing a postgraduate degree said is because they are too expensive, while 50.7% said it is due to a lack of funding options available.
The HEC also revealed that banks and organisations are less willing to offer loans or fund courses.
“The number of loans granted has fallen over time and contributors to the inquiry reported that it has become more difficult to obtain credit.” said the report.
James Adamson, second year psychology student will be doing a master’s degree in clinical psychology and is one of the few who will be funded to continue his education.
Adamson said: “My degree will be funded by the NHS, that’s why I’ll be doing one. But I think that if you want to be someone important in psychology, you have to do a master’s.”
The HEC research urged the UK industry, government and universities to increase the amount they invest in research and development activities and encouraged funders to focus their money on making sure that each discipline has enough postgraduate students rather than focusing on individuals.
Don Nutbeam, Vice Chancellor of the University of Southampton told the inquiry:
“Unless we address this funding challenge, postgraduate education will only be for the rich and for international students, and will not meet the evolving future needs of our advanced economy.”