The UK's postgraduates are being left behind in a 'perfect storm' of problems

 

A combination of increasing fees, reluctant banks, and changes in immigration have combined to create the ‘perfect storm’ in postgraduate study, a new report has found.

The independent report, published today by the Higher Education Commission, highlights some of the key issues that may ‘inflict significant damage on the health of the postgraduate sector’.

According to the report, postgraduates are the key to Britain’s continued success in an increasingly competitive, globalised world, and thus far, that sector has been largely ignored by policymakers: out of nearly 80 pages of the Higher Education white paper, only nine paragraphs were dedicated to postgraduate study.

Rising tuition fees have taken their toll on Higher Education, but especially the postgraduate sector, as there are no state-backed student loans like there are for undergraduates. Students who have already accrued debt through the new fees regime are reportedly reluctant to add to their student debt, which is a cause of concern for employers, universities, and the students themselves.

In addition, the reluctance of the banks to lend money, and an inability to assess good risks and bad risks - due to most students having no track record of paying debts - has also worsened the situation. The National Union for Students, giving evidence to the Inquiry, cynically stated that: “the credit flow from banks will be meagre until somebody finds a way to extract profit from funding postgraduate study”.

What’s more, the increase in international students, although beneficial for the UK in general, has led to concerns that this increase is masking a stagnation in the qualification and skill level of the home-domiciled population. The report states that Britain is the “education outsourcing capital of the world” – and notes that a bigger emphasis is needed on up-skilling of the UK population.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, said: "We must make the most of all our talents, and that is no less important in postgraduate studies which are now dominated by overseas students.

“It is vital that our brightest graduates are not priced out of postgraduate study. This is why the Sutton Trust has commissioned a new study on social mobility, which includes looking at access to postgraduate courses”

International students are valuable for creating and retaining economic ties with other countries – however, it is concerning that many courses in universities are sustained by and reliant on international students. With potential changes in immigration – the Coalition has agreed to place an “annual limit on the number of non-EU economic migrants admitted into the UK to live and work” – there’s a very real concern that these courses may struggle and eventually close. The report says that, were that to happen, “Britain’s research capacity and competitiveness would be damaged and diminished”.

The current postgraduate study situation is out of step with Britain’s ambition to be the leading knowledge-based economy of the world, and also out of step with other countries that the UK is currently competing with. Without excluding students from the immigration cap, this situation could worsen.

The report concludes that policymakers should ‘take a holistic  view of the English education system’, and calls on the government to “immediately establish a taskforce to examine the feasibility of a postgraduate student loan scheme and develop policy options, reporting by December 2013”.

A Department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokeswoman said: "We recognise that there are some concerns in the sector about postgraduate provision. We have asked the Higher Education Funding Council for England to monitor and review participation in postgraduate study as part of a longer term assessment of the impact of the funding changes."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Service Desk Analyst- Desktop Support, Helpdesk, ITIL

£20000 - £27000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - IT

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Computer Futures has been est...

Supply Primary Teacher Jobs in Blackpool

£80 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Supply Primary Teacher Jobs in ...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition