David Willetts, the Minister for Universities and Science at BIS, announced today that he would ask Sir Adrian Smith, the chair of last year's Postgraduate Review panel, to reconvene the panel and look at postgraduate access and finance in light of the new funding system.
Addressing the Universities UK Spring Conference this morning, David Willetts said:
"We are looking within BIS – in light of changes to undergraduate funding and finance – at how we support postgraduate study in future. We have a successful postgraduate sector that has grown substantially over recent years and has done so with comparatively little Government funding or regulation. Many people have raised concerns about the impact that higher graduate contributions could have on participation in postgraduate study – and it would be clearly detrimental to this country if we saw a big fall in postgraduate numbers.
So I have asked Professor Sir Adrian Smith – who, as you know, produced a comprehensive report on postgraduate study in March of last year – to reconvene his review panel and consider this issue in light of the new funding environment."
In Spring 2010, BIS published Adrian Smith's review of postgraduate study, One Step Beyond: Making the Most of Postgraduate Education. This review was originally announced by Sir Peter Mandelson, then Business Secretary and was published following consultation with the higher education sector, including NUS.
Read NUS' submission to the original postgraduate review.
The review, however, deferred assessments of postgraduate financial support and access to Lord Browne's review of higher education funding and student finance. Lord Browne's final report claimed to find no evidence for changes to postgraduate student support. Read NUS analysis of Browne and postgraduates.
Subsequently, however, it became clear that postgraduate taught fees would rise in line with undergraduate fees, an outcome that had not necessarily been anticipated by the government. As such, the Postgraduate Review panel has been asked to reconvene.
Since the original review, NUS has gathered evidence of the financial challenges facing taught postgraduate students in Broke and Broken: taught postgraduates on finance and funding.