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The pilot projects supported through HEFCE’s Postgraduate Support Scheme (PSS) identified significant latent demand for postgraduate taught (PGT) programmes, and highlighted finance as a key barrier to progression.  The new loan scheme will, therefore, be an important step towards addressing this [Note 1]. 

Finance is just one of the factors influencing the progression of students to postgraduate education. HEFCE research demonstrates that students from disadvantaged backgrounds who declare their intention to progress to postgraduate level in their final undergraduate year are less likely than others to do so. HEFCE will, therefore, continue to work closely with universities and colleges to support the progression of these students during the coming years [Note 2]. 

Alongside this work, the UK higher education funding bodies have developed a website called Steps to postgraduate study to provide information for UK, EU and international students who are making decisions about going straight on to PGT study or returning after a period away from education. The website suggests questions for prospective students to ask both themselves and course providers about PGT courses, and provides information on issues such as visas, accommodation and funding by providing links to relevant third party websites. This will be an important resource for students considering postgraduate education using the new government-backed loans. 

Professor Madeleine Atkins, HEFCE Chief Executive, said: 

‘Postgraduate education is important for the life chances of individuals, for the supply of the highest levels of knowledge and skills to enhance the nation’s productivity and global competitiveness. The creation of a new loan scheme provides critical finance to support these goals. We look forward to working closely with Government to review how the loans affect the development of courses at masters level and to positioning the postgraduate education agenda during the coming years.’

Notes

  1. The analysis of HEFCE’s Postgraduate Support Scheme evaluates and summarises findings from the £25 million initiative, which involved 40 higher education institutions in 20 projects to support and improve progression to taught postgraduate education. See more information about the scheme.
  2. Evidence has been provided by HEFCE’s ‘Trends in transition from first degree to postgraduate study: Qualifiers between 2002-03 and 2010-11’ (HEFCE 2013/13), and the Intentions After Graduation Survey results. The differential outcomes report was published by HEFCE in July.
  3. We will continue to consider how best we can meet the information needs of those making decisions about taught postgraduate study as part of the consultation ‘Review of information about learning and teaching, and the student experience’.
  4. The Government announced  a Consultation on Support for Postgraduate Study in the Autumn Statement 2014.