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.’