The loans are designed to lure around 40,000 students a year into postgraduate studies / Getty Images

Move aims to make UK grads more competitive

Students will for the first time be able to take out Government loans to finance them through their postgraduate studies.

The move means loans of up to £10,000 will be available to students aged 30 or under, and is designed to counteract the slump in UK entrants opting to study for a master’s degree, following the introduction of £9,000-a-year tuition fees for undergraduate courses.

Figures show a 10 per cent decline in UK entrants since 2010/11, meaning that the majority of postgraduate students are from abroad, mostly China. The loans are designed to lure around 40,000 students a year into postgraduate studies.

The number of jobs demanding a postgraduate qualification has soared, with 11 per cent of working adults now possessing such a qualification, compared with just four per cent two decades ago. Ministers feared the slump in take-up would lead to the UK becoming less competitive in the global market.

 

“By introducing postgraduate loans, students will have greater flexibility to gain the qualifications they need to get on in life and give the UK the skilled workforce we need to secure long-term economic growth,” said Universities Minister Greg Clark.

The move was given “two-and-a-half” cheers from university leaders. However, Sally hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: “Encouraging people to accrue more debt is not the best way to attract the best and brightest into further study.”

Professor Steve West, chairman of the University Alliance, representing new universities, said: "The current public subsidy on existing student loans is too high; for every £1 the Government gives out in student loans, they will only get 55p back.”

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