HEFCE announce details of postgraduate support scheme

HEFCE announced further details of their postgraduate support scheme on Monday (15th December) alongside the initial funding allocations and method for the 2015-16 academic year.

In the Autumn Statement following the conformation that the Government would introduce postgraduate loans, it was announced that the Government would repurpose £50million from the National Scholarship Program to support progression to taught postgraduate education. This £50million from HEFCE, when match funded, will enable 10,000 masters students to each receive £10,000 towards their studies. This is intended as a bridge until the postgraduate loans are available in 2016-17.

These awards will be available to students undertaking masters courses in any subject, studying full or part time for a maximum of two years. Students must be domiciled in the UK or EU and from a group that is ‘evidentially under-represented among the institution’s taught masters population’. However, todays announcement revealed that these awards will only be available for students progressing from an undergraduate course for which they were charged the higher tuition fee applying since 2012-13.

This support from HEFCE is intended to be allocated to students from groups who are under-represented within postgraduate programmes. This follows the plot programme in 2014-15.

HEFCE have so far allocated 9,000 (90 per cent) full awards to 131 institutions at a total cost of £45million. 10 per cent of funding has been withheld until March 2015 to accommodate for any material changes to allocations.

The allocation of funding varies widely between each institution with several institutions receiving over £1million in funding and many receiving less than £100,000.

The institution with the highest number of allocated awards is the University College London with 276 full awards allocated at a cost of £1,380,000 (£2,760,000 when match funded). Kings College London will receive a similar amount of funding with 273 full awards allocated at £1,365,000. Other institutions receiving a large portion of the funding are: The University of Manchester with £1,290,000, The University of Birmingham with £1,120,000 and the University of Sheffield with £1,100,000.

The higher education institution to receive the smallest amount of funding is Ravensbourne with only £5,000. 23 institutions have been allocated with less than 10 full awards.

HEFCE are developing a monitoring and evaluation plan which will gather information on the following;

a) The number of students who would not otherwise have participated in taught masters programmes, and the benefits to the individuals, the economy and society from this.

b) The level of investment in postgraduate education attracted during 2015-16 from employers, institutions, donors and students themselves, and the extent to which this is later sustained.

c) The practical learning benefits from applying the lessons from PSS activities across the sector during 2015-16, and from gathering and disseminating further learning to inform later activity.

UPDATE – 17/12/14

New HEFCE research released today based the Intentions After Graduation Survey 2013 finds that for 65 per cent of students who were likely to enter postgraduate study, course fees were a factor. For students who said they were unlikely to study at postgraduate level, 61 per cent stated course fees as a discouraging factor.

The research also suggests that although 17 per cent of graduates intended to pursue a postgraduate qualification, only half actually did so within six months of graduation.

HEFCE have stated that ‘given this clear evidence that finance is a barrier to progression to postgraduate study’ they welcome the Governments commitment to provide scholarships in 2015-16 and to ‘develop a postgraduate loan scheme to address both the unmet demand and the finance barriers evidenced in the recent IAGS survey.

You can find HEFCE’s guidance for institutions receiving funding to support postgraduates students 2015-16 here alongside their initial funding allocations and method used to inform the indicative allocation for 2015-16.

Find everything we know about the 2016-17 postgraduate loans here.

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