Funding Postgraduate Study in the UK: issues of widening participation and sustainability

On the 24th April 2015 Dr Martin Gough of the Educational Development Division, in his role as Convenor of the Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE) Postgraduate Issues Network, organised the seminar, ‘Funding Postgraduate Study in the UK: issues of widening participation and sustainability’. You can find a report on this seminar in a recent issue of The Times Higher Education (no.2202, 7-13 May, p8) by Holly Else, ‘State-backed master’s loans: is an ‘own goal’ looming?’.

One of the issues raised at the seminar, and the focus of the THE report, concerned the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s plan to extend the student loans scheme to taught master’s provision. That would appear to be better than nothing but there is the potential for new problems arising from such a scheme.

One of the speakers, Tony Strike (University of Sheffield), explained how the separate HEFCE Postgraduate Support Scheme has been offering specific schemes for using funds. This is proving to be successful in encouraging historically under-represented groups of students to progress into the postgraduate level, with a view to enhanced access to the professions outside higher education. Meanwhile Paul Wakeling and Sally Hancock (University of York) explored the characteristics and perceptions of those generally who both do and do not progress into postgraduate taught study, and Brooke Storer-Church provided a brief response and update on HEFCE’s work in this area.

The THE report omits to mention the other speaker, Gill Clarke (UKCGE and University of Oxford), and her HEFCE-sponsored project on international comparisons on quality, access and employment outcomes in taught and also research postgraduate education. Gill was able to contribute more to the broader question of what characteristics will be more sustainable for a system of postgraduate education as a whole, to ensure adequate student numbers and the health of UK universities. One of the lessons arising out of the comparative study is the need for resources to support more flexible study patterns.

More details about the seminar, and speakers’ presentations, can be found here.

Martin Gough organised another seminar in this series earlier in the academic year on ‘Dimensions of well-being in postgraduate education’. Further information can be found here.

 

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