“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”, said Albert Einstein, a postgraduate student turned Nobel Prize winning physicist.
Oh boy, are we in difficult times?! Across the UK access to taught postgraduate study relies upon money rather than merit - tuition fees are uncapped and there is no student support system.
Our 2010 Broke and Broken survey showed what that means to students. NUS found;
62.9% of postgraduates surveyed reported that their debt causes them concern to the extent that it affects their quality of life.
66.9% of respondents were entirely self-funded. Those self-funded students were more likely to have considered leaving or suspending their course due to financial concerns than students with financial support.
17.7 of full-time respondents were funding postgraduate study at least in part through a credit card or overdraft.
And nothing has changed since then. But this year we have a real opportunity to galvanise the education sector in calling for fees to be capped and student loans to be extended to postgraduate students, as a first step towards fair access.
In order to do that we need to mobilise supporters both inside and outside the student movement.
The whole postgraduate committee is resolved that taught postgraduate funding and finance will be a key message at the upcoming NUS-led demonstation to defend education.
That will be an opportunity to inspire new postgraduate activists and raise the profile of our campaign across the UK.
We also need to work with vice-chancellors, academics, leaders of the public and private sectors, professional associations and of course our allies in various trade unions.
Vice-Chancellor’s of all but the most elite universities are concerned where the next generation of postgraduates are coming from and whether their institutions support services can cope with the increasing burden of broke postgrads.
And whether it’s big business or the NHS, employers are increasingly looking for people with skills that postgraduate study can give equip you with.
Only this week Times Higher Education ran a story on the British Academy attacking the UK government on their inaction on postgraduate issues, focusing their fire on new visa rules and the lack of student loans.
Whatever their motivation, there are many sections of our society with a stake in this fight for fair funding and in order to win we should lead our own coalition calling for action on the future of postgraduate study.
Together we can take this campaign to Westminster, the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Senedd and the Northern Ireland Assembly and win a progressive policy change.
We need your support in mobilising people across the UK to join our campaign for fair funding for taught postgraduate students.
If you want more information or want to get involved in the campaign email me at email@example.com or download resources from Connect.