Is the UK postgraduate system in crisis?
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The UK is one of only three European countries in which less than 10% of students go on to postgraduate study, when the continental norm is 15-24%. With rows over funding and social mobility, is this an indication of a wider problem with our postgraduate system? The proportion of students registered on postgraduate courses is steadily decreasing, with the number of part-time postgrads slumping dramatically. There are several potential reasons for this, including the funding situation. Unlike undergraduate finance, there is not a loan system in place, so postgraduate students have to rely on scholarships, family, sponsors and banks to help cover the cost of their degree. But in what has been described as ‘a perfect storm’, postgrad fees have been hiked up due to teaching grant cuts, research councils are withdrawing support and banks are increasingly reluctant to approve Professional and Career Development Loans. Understandably, the number of students reticent to spend thousands of pounds on further study is on the rise, especially if they don’t, and can’t, have access to the funds to do so. More students are opting to study abroad at undergraduate and postgraduate level, looking at the continent, where many countries have no or very low tuition fees and offer courses taught in English. Other graduates are choosing to risk it in the world of apprenticeships and internships, acknowledging employers looking for tangible experience in their chosen industry.
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