Helen Higson reflects on the first year of Aston Online’s postgraduate provision
What does the Conservatives release their 2015 election manifesto say about higher education?
As the government publish its long-awaited postgraduate support consultation, Emily Lupton looks at the detail and the reaction so far.
As HESA release its data from the 2013/14 academic year, part time students have been shown to drop significantly and the proportion of graduates receiving first and second class degrees have increased substantially. Emily Lupton rounds up the latest data.
Today the Government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) unveiled their Science and Innovation strategy. This sets out the Government’s priorities for investment and support up to to 2021. A total of £5.9billion capital is committed to support science and innovation from 2016-21.
HEFCE today announced further details of their postgraduate support scheme alongside the initial funding allocations and method. Emily explores the new details and the initial funding allocations.
In this afternoon’s Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced that the Government would introduce loans for all young people that want to access postgraduate study, of up to £10,000 across all disciplines. There have been growing calls over the last few years for the introduction of such a scheme from think tanks and sector organisations including IPPR, NUS, CentreForum and others.
The principle of fair access is central to debates about higher education: almost everybody agrees that no one should be denied the opportunity to go to university because they cannot afford to pay. This is why we have a subsidised loans system. However, this principle has not been applied to postgraduate study, where there is no subsidised loan system at all. Rick Muir writes about his latest report for IPPR which shows why we need such a system for postgraduates and how it would be affordable for government to implement.
There is no doubt that, as with most changes, the £9,000 fee system introduced in England in 2012-13 created winners and losers. We know that applications are back up for full-time undergraduates – and we know this includes students from non-traditional backgrounds, which is great. But that is not the whole story. On the day the Public Accounts Committee confirm the rising costs of writing off loans, Libby Hackett looks at the winners and losers in the current system, and calls for a fundamental rethink.
There is little doubt that we have a problem or two in postgraduate policy. Fifty vice chancellors recently wrote to the Observer to say so. BIS ministers have been asking for imaginative suggestions and are clear that they are very open to considering any new or ingenious ideas. Well here’s one: don’t do anything (or at least don’t do anything rash).
It will not have escaped the notice of regular readers of this site that attention is finally turning towards the future of postgraduate provision. Others have focused on elements of the debate such as the widening of participation to postgraduate studies. Another area which is gathering momentum is the push for a postgraduate equivalent of the National Student Survey and the natural extension of the Key Information Sets to include postgraduate programmes. But are we ready for this big move and do we understand the effects of these at undergraduate level yet?
I’m not quite sure when or how it happened, but suddenly we are all madly concerned about widening access to postgraduate study. Before Christmas I wrote about the postgraduate policy vacuum – that the government seemed to have no fixed plans to build postgraduates into national strategy in either research or teaching.
But policy, it would seem, abhors a vacuum, and since the New Year we have seen a flurry of activity from within and outside BIS. The 1994 Group chose to make postgraduates the issue in early January. The Higher Education Commission launched an inquiry into postgraduate education. BIS had a roundtable. HEFCE replaced the teaching grant at taught postgraduate level for bands A-C. And last week the Open University held a national conference on widening participation to postgraduate education.
During the festive season it is traditional to turn our minds to those less fortunate than ourselves, and so it is appropriate that we take a minute to reflect on those poor neglected postgraduate students. It is incredible to think that during the upheavals we have seen in the past twelve months of higher education policymaking, postgraduate students have barely got a mention. If undergraduate students are to be ‘at the heart of the system’, it looks like postgraduate students are an amputated limb.
I have spent more time in higher education as a postgraduate than an undergraduate and given my perspective, the first time I read the HE White Paper, I thought I had missed something. There was virtually no reference to postgraduate students in the much-awaited document. When I say ‘no’ reference there are a handful of paragraphs on page 21 that refer to other studies, particularly the 2010 Adrian Smith review, but the sense appears to be that this White Paper has passed the issue of postgraduate education back to Adrian Smith and HEFCE for ‘continued review’. Smith’s initial review highlighted that in contrast to undergraduate study / participation etc. we know relatively little about postgraduates and their requirements. As such the absence of a reference to postgraduates, particularly taught postgraduate students, concerns me in relation to two areas.