NUS to campaign for the introduction of postgraduate loans in Scotland

Illustration credit: Holly Jameson

A motion passed at the NUS Scotland Conference held last week resolved to campaign for the introduction of postgraduate loans for students at Scottish universities.

This comes at a time when an increasing number of graduates are considering options for further study but are put off due to financial constraints.

With graduate unemployment at a 15 year high, many alumni are concerned they will be unable to stand out against the crowd with only an undergraduate degree.

The absence of a postgraduate loan system has meant many current students have had to rely on friends, family and career development loans from the bank to make their continued studying feasible.

It is predominately students from the poorest backgrounds who have been most affected by the complex financial system.

A key complaint of NUS Scotland was that a two-tier system within higher education has formed, comprised of those who can afford postgraduate study and those who cannot. They argued that the key reason behind those who wish to enter postgraduate study not doing so, has nothing to do with ability, but instead concerns a lack of finances.

Postgraduate students account for 26 per cent of the university student population in Scotland, yet 75 per cent of postgraduates questioned said they were not receiving enough financial support to study.

It was also claimed that 55 per cent of postgraduates are, “Unhappy with the current system of provision of financial support … compared to 26 per cent of students overall.” NUS Scotland have argued that access to education should be available to anyone who is academically able, not simply financially secure.

Taught and research masters fees at the University of Edinburgh for the 2012-13 academic year stand at £5,750 for home and EU students, whilst those from overseas can expect to pay between £13,050 and £30,850.

Fees for Masters of Philosophy and Doctorate Research programmes are between £11,450 and £27,000.

The Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) has highlighted the need for a greater number of postgraduates in Scotland to cater for its developing need for skills, a factor which would arguably be improved were a postgraduate loan system put in place.

The motion presented to the conference resolved to, “Campaign for a national postgraduate system in Scotland, which covers all up-front fees from institutions and which will provide at least the minimum income of £7,000 in living support for every postgraduate student.”

NUS Scotland added that the above loans system should be, “Open to all students from Scotland, and all students from the United Kingdom who have completed an undergraduate degree in Scotland.”

Taken from The Student, published Tue Mar 13th 2012.

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