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Chancellor announces postgraduate loans and “longest ever” investment in science

Chancellor George Osborne has announced a new loans scheme for postgraduate students and said the government will also invest £5.9 billion into the UK’s research infrastructure from 2016-21.

In his Autumn Statement, he said the science spending represented “the longest-term commitment to investment in science facilities in any parliament".

He also unveiled plans for a new loans scheme for postgraduate students, an additional £61 million to be spent on Catapult innovation centres, and a commitment to develop a “northern powerhouse” including £235 million of funding for a new advanced materials institute based in Manchester with satellites in other northern cities.

The science spending will include a £2.9 billion Grand Challenges fund, which will enable the UK to invest in major research facilities of national significance, including the new Sir Henry Royce Institute in Manchester and a £95 million commitment to take the lead in the next European mission to Mars.

A new postgraduate loans scheme from 2016-17 will provide around 40,000 students under the age of 30 with loans worth up to £10,000, to be repaid concurrently with undergraduate loans. The government expects this will lead to an additional 10,000 students studying at postgraduate level.

Responding to the Chancellor’s statement, Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said:

"The introduction of a new postgraduate student loans system is good news. We support the government's recognition of the substantial benefits arising from postgraduate taught education, and the need for support to ensure that some students are not priced out of further study. The number of students starting a postgraduate taught course at a UK university fell by 10 per cent in the two years between 2010-11 and 2012-13.

"We welcome also the Chancellor's continued personal prioritisation of science and research. The UK produces some of the best research in the world and universities are central to this success. Publicly-funded science and research promotes regional growth and boosts the prosperity and growth potential of the economy. However, if the UK is to maintain its position as a premier global research power, it must commit to long-term government-financed investment. The UK is currently investing less in research and innovation than its major international competitors and the UK's position is being challenged.


Get the full picture from HEi-know:  Briefing Report 221