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Finance worries deter students from postgraduate study, research finds

Over half of final year students who intend to go on to postgraduate study do not do so – often because of finance issues, survey findings suggest.

While more than one in six of final year first degree students surveyed at English universities last year planned to join a postgraduate programme, only half did so within six months of graduation.

Asked what factor was most likely to affect their decision whether to progress to postgraduate level, nearly two thirds (65 per cent) mentioned course fees.

Fees were also a deterrent for 61 per cent of those who said they were unlikely to go on to postgraduate study.

The research by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, based on the Intentions After Graduation Survey 2013, also show that young students are more likely to be planning postgraduate study than their mature peers, and those from areas with high HE participation rates are also more inclined to consider joining a postgraduate programme.

HEFCE also examined the intentions of final year students this year, and found that a slightly higher proportion of black and minority ethnic students than white students intended to enter postgraduate study (14 per cent compared with 12 per cent).

The funding council said that in light of the findings, it welcomed the Government’s recent announcement on plans to provide £10,000 scholarships for 10,000 students studying for Master’s qualifications in 2015-16.

*HEFCE has issued details on how it plans to allocate 90 per cent of £50 million earmarked for the new postgraduate scholarships for 2015-16 announced by Chancellor George Osborne in his Autumn Statement. It has listed how many awards and how much funding each university will receive. Institutions that take up the funding are expected to match it, and may decline the money in whole or in part. They have been given a deadline of 27 January 2015 to say how much of the funding they will take. Allocations range from £10,000 to £1.38 million.