Concerns grow over taught postgraduate funding
Paul Tobin, PGT rep to NUS NEC tody sent out the following message to students' unions on behalf of the NUS Postgraduate Committee:
We're emailing you as a heads-up to a possibly imminent increase in PGT funding. This would be even worse than the undergrad situation, so please read on for more information.
What's the problem?
As well as undergrad fees going up, we're expecting PGT fees to go up too.
Why is this especially problematic?
Because there is no funding system in place for PGT courses like there is for undergrad. Students have to get loans from banks or work part-time to fund their courses. Imagine going from having £20,000+ of debt already and wanting to do a Masters, only to see fees of around £10,000 plus accommodation plus maintainance, with no loan system to spread the cost! What's more, unlike PhDs, there aren't many scholarships for PGT courses. So unless you've got a mountain of money in the bank, a PGT course will become almost impossible.
Why are fees going up?
PGT fees were already uncapped, but they were in most case set at a similar level to undergrad fees and part-subsidised as part of the Funding Council teaching grant. That's to say, undergrad fees were around £3,000, so PGT fees were set at a similar level. As undergraduate fees rise, it is likely that PGT fees will too.
More than that, universities are facing a storm of potential cuts in 'efficiency savings' and potentially, cuts to international student numbers for the coming academic year. Income from PGT fees may come under pressure to make up the difference.
How much are we talking?
Anything from £6,000 to £20,000 a year depending on the institution and course.
When would this come into place?
Although undergrad fees won't change until 2012, it's likely that there will be an increase for September 2011's intake.
What do we need you to do?
- Speak to your Pro-Vice-Chancellors and Department heads- are they planning on increasing fees? When from? Will they be providing more scholarships?
- Also speak to your current PGT students to get a feel for how they feel their courses are going- are they getting value for money now? What would happen if fees trebled?
- Let us know the situation so we can start to piece together an understanding of the national picture.
This issue has been kept relatively out of the media but is of crucial importance- we're going to need to start pressuring universities not to arbitrarily increase fees as a gut reaction to the change in undergrad fees.
Have a look at the following for more info:-
Read the article in Times Higher Education here.
Read the article in the Guardian here.
See NUS's recent report on PGT finance here.
Paul and the Postgrad Committee