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The report, by CRAC/Vitae and iCeGS, finds that universities remain ambitious to develop and grow their postgraduate research activity, but recognise that this will be challenging due to the availability of funding and international competition.
Other findings include:
HEFCE-commissioned research by University of Oxford academics has looked at quality, access and employment outcomes in taught and research postgraduate education in Australia, England, Germany, India, Norway, Scotland, Spain and the United States. The research finds that these countries face similar challenges, but are pursuing different responses which are tailored to their educational cultures and socio-economic conditions.
The challenges identified include:
In mainland Europe, the Bologna Process is perceived to have transformed the postgraduate landscape and acted as an impetus for several countries to restructure their provision to bring it in line with Bologna expectations.
Funding for postgraduate education is a significant concern in all countries, though there are marked differences between national systems, with some providing free higher education and others requiring students to use grants, bursaries and loans to fund 100 per cent of their education.
Across the postgraduate systems explored here, there is currently little agreement about who the ‘beneficiaries’ of postgraduate education are. Some countries view the benefits as more individually focused, while others cite the broader societal benefits of the most highly educated citizens. This suggests a need for policy development that balances the individual and wider societal benefits of postgraduate education.
Chris Millward, HEFCE Director (Policy), said:
‘Since the reforms to undergraduate education in 2012, HEFCE has been at the forefront of efforts to highlight the centrality of postgraduate education to a successful higher education sector, to improve understanding of its characteristics, and to develop effective responses to its most pressing challenges.
‘These reports provide further insight into the situation of postgraduate education in England, enabling us to understand the routes students take through to postgraduate research and institutions’ plans for the future, and how our postgraduate system compares with those in other countries.
‘Postgraduate education in England is recognised as a success throughout the world, but we need to continue to invest to sustain this position. A key priority identified in these reports is taught postgraduate education, which appears increasingly to be a route into research and is a central aspect of the landscape in other countries. This provides impetus for the work we are supporting through the Postgraduate Support Scheme, which is developing real solutions to the barriers to progression at this level.’
Other recent HEFCE reports on postgraduate education include: