University Alliance responds to the Autumn Statement 2014

Professor Steve West, Chair of University Alliance, said:

“We strongly welcome the Chancellor’s announcement today to develop a government-backed postgraduate loan system. ​Postgraduate study is vital to ensure ​Britain develop​s​ and grow​s​ global talent, which will be key to our future success.

“The proportion of postgraduates in the economy is bound to become an increasingly important indicator of economic strength. Yet the UK has seen a fall in postgraduate study since the introduction of higher fees. Today’s announcement has the potential to create a fairer system for people who want to study a higher degree and transform their life chances.

“Currently half of postgraduate students cannot access loans. The financial burden discourages many people from postgraduate study which means they miss out on the significant benefits that studying a higher degree can bring – especially as in many cases it is a requirement for entry to a professional career and transforming their life chances.

“This is a positive announcement for Alliance universities which together have almost 80,000 students on postgraduate taught caught courses – 18 per cent of the UK total. In areas such as Architecture, Allied medicine and computer science our share is even higher with 29%, 26% and 23% respectively.

“As significant players in postgraduate delivery, we look forward to working with government to develop the detail of this funding scheme.”

Sustainable funding for higher education

Professor West added:

“But we still need the government to put the higher education funding system on a more sustainable footing – the current public subsidy on existing student loans is too high: for every £1 the government gives out in student loans, they will only get 55p back. University Alliance warns that this is creating an unsustainable funding system that could result in cuts to student places or underinvestment in high quality programmes.

“This is why we developed our Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) proposals earlier this year to facilitate universal loans for the first time, including postgraduate students and part-time students which has witnessed a major decline in numbers.”

Further reading