Comment: 'Individuals count in a small university like ours'

Like many institutions, at Winchester we realise it's a challenging time for anyone considering postgraduate study. Financial concerns are, of course important, but it can sometimes be easy to forget the true value and benefits that postgraduate study can bring, both personally and professionally.

Here at Winchester, I believe we equip our postgraduates with the skills to secure their future, but we also enable them to rediscover and develop their passion for a subject, in a community which is passionate about knowledge. At a small institution like ours, individuals matter; we want to know our students' stories, what makes them tick and how to engage with them. We want to learn from them.

We are a community of scholars, with staff and students working together to advance knowledge and change the world for the better. Our ethos is reflected in the courses we offer. Arts, humanities and social sciences offer the chance to ask questions that change people and institutions; our arts courses deepen creative drive and development; while our business courses offer professional development to build strong, dynamic and motivated leaders. Our postgraduate intake covers a wide age range, and students come from a variety of backgrounds and nationalities. This diversity helps to enrich students' experiences.

Our location is beautiful, and we welcome students into a friendly community, but we also know that postgraduate students want to be taught by staff who are active in research. The results of the latest research assessment exercise testify to Winchester's standing, as 75 per cent of our research was judged to be of international quality, some of it world-leading. And our size means we cannot split our academics into research staff and teaching staff, so students are taught by people who write the books and the papers that are at the cutting edge of their field.

The comment I hear most from our postgraduate students is that their experience of studying with us has been "life-changing". Not only has their study enhanced their employability and professional skills, it has also given them a new-found confidence and, just as importantly, reignited their passion for knowledge – and that, to me, is the true value of postgraduate education.

Professor Elizabeth Stuart is the senior pro-vice-chancellor at the University of Winchester

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