TARGETcourses survey of students considering postgraduate study

Students considering further study turn to the bank of Mum and Dad

Just under half (49%) of undergraduates who are considering further study intend to borrow from their parents to compensate for the lack of official funding, according to a survey carried out by our sister website TARGETpostgrad.

The survey of more than 3,000 students found that more than a third (36%) planned to borrow from the bank to pay for postgraduate study, while 61% intended to work part-time. There was also strong interest in taking part-time or distance learning courses, which typically have lower fees.

Studying overseas was an attractive option for many, with 40% saying they would seriously consider taking a postgraduate course abroad. Germany and Scandinavia, where fees for further study are low, some programmes are free and many courses are taught in English, were particularly popular.

‘Funding for postgraduate study is patchy’

Chris Phillips, research and information director at our parent company GTI Media, said, ‘With the government wanting a highly skilled workforce to stay competitive in the world economy, it’s a shame that funding for postgraduate study is patchy and it’s not surprising that universities in northern Europe are now offering postgraduate education at bargain prices. Nor is it a shock that many students are effectively funding themselves – adding to their debt burden from their undergraduate days. To help them search for funding, TARGETpostgrad has launched a unique, searchable funding database on’

There are increasing concerns that students who are not from well-off backgrounds and who have already built up large debts funding their undergraduate degrees will be put off going on to study at postgraduate level. The National Union of Students has called for a loans system to be set up for postgraduate students to ensure fair access.

The number of UK students going on to postgraduate study dropped by eight per cent in 2011–12 compared to the previous year and was particularly marked among students taking up places on part-time courses. It remains to be seen what impact higher tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year, introduced in September 2012, will have on postgraduate student numbers.

Relatively few UK students progress to postgraduate education

A report from the Higher Education Commission, an independent group of education and business leaders, last year also called for reform of the support available for postgraduate study and pointed out that postgraduates were ‘key to Britain’s continued success’: ‘High numbers of international students cannot compensate for poor take-up of postgraduate education among home-domiciled students.’ It pointed out that within the European Higher Education Area, a strategic group of 47 countries that cooperate on higher education issues, only Andorra and Kazakhstan have fewer students progressing to postgraduate education.

The survey of 3,000 graduates was carried out over a three-week period in February and the findings were presented last week to an audience of university admissions officers as part of the TARGETpostgrad Midlands Postgraduate Study and Funding Fair.