Published on November 19, 2012 | by Myriah Towner

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Postgraduates need a better funding system

Student studying hard

Students wanting to study postgraduate courses worry about debt [Oliver Creamer]

Myriah Towner – Output Print Editor of Arts London News

With the lack of a state-backed loans available for students wanting to study on postgraduate courses, many are finding it as a less accessible option to take on financially.

As undergraduate fees have already increased in both price and the level of debt for students, it has also eliminated the possibility of pursuing postgraduate study for some.

According to a report by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) – a cross-party group composed of MPs and representatives from academia and business – the country’s economic future is dire unless postgraduate education is treated as part of a holistic vision for education.

Graham Spittle, chair of the HEC, told The Guardian: “If we don’t pay attention…this area of education will be closed to some people because of cost and accessibility.”

The future leaders and entrepreneurs could be some of the students not able to do a postgraduate course, and removing them from this hopeful list of achievers is unfair.

For many students, postgraduate degrees serve as a way to improve career prospects – and recently it seems many are considering it due to decreasing numbers of graduate training schemes and jobs available, and the rise of graduate unemployment.

A report commissioned by the Higher Education Career Services Unit revealed that existing university graduates are more likely to face unemployment or earn jobs in low-skilled industries compared to a decade ago.

This information is not surprising, considering the struggles with the current economic climate, but something must be done to change this. Many graduates are choosing internship placements or remaining unemployed after earning their degree because of the lack of jobs available.

Joe Mullan, senior policy analyst at the HEC, highlights the issue with loans for postgraduate study: “Most loans for postgraduate study are offered on a near-commercial basis, without the protection of income contingency. It’s unsurprising that people are being put off entering further study on these terms. We need to put a better system in place”.

A better system is needed to help talented and hard-working students, who are ambitious and willing to take on postgraduate studies.

A system that includes ways to: improve job growth within the country, boost the economy, work with higher education organisations and banks to facilitate ways to finance postgraduate loans. All of these would be the start to overhauling the current system in place.

With this, the hopes of everyone getting a fair chance at funding their postgraduate course would be made possible.

If a system like this is not established, as Spittle says, “We are probably hindering ourselves from getting the strong technical leaders and entrepreneurs that society is going to need – that we’re all going to need – in the future”.

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