Number of Postgraduate students increases by 22%
The number of students studying Postgrads in England has increased by almost a quarter since the introduction of Postgraduate loans last year.
According to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), 90,600 students enrolled for a full-time Postgrad course in 2016/17 – that's an increase of 22% compared to last year. There was also a 9% increase in part-time students enrolling on Postgrad courses.
The number of students starting undergraduate degrees this year also increased by 1% to 408,000. But whilst this is the highest-ever number on record, it looks like unis have hit their peak, as UCAS figures now show a 7% decline in applications for students starting uni this September.
This fall in applications for 2017/18 is likely due to the £9,000/year cap being lifted on undergraduate tuition fees in England. Fees were set to rise to £9,250 from September – but a surprise vote in parliament this week suggests it might not go ahead after all.
Why are Postgrads more popular this year?
Back in August 2016, the government announced they’d be offering loans to Postgrad students for the first time ever – which is likely to account for the 22% increase.
The loan of up to £10,000 is now available to graduates applying for Master’s courses at any university in the UK (provided they already lived in England).
In the past, surveys have shown that the lack of tuition fee loans for Postgraduate study was preventing keen graduates from applying for a Master’s.
Madeleine Atkins from HEFCE has acknowledged that the absence of student finance for Postgrads has been a huge barrier in the past, putting Postgraduate study “out of reach” for many students – particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
She added that Postgraduate course can be “hugely beneficial” to students looking to increase employment opportunities after university. With more people in the UK going to university than ever before, many students feel they need a Master’s to stand out to employers.
Am I eligible for the PGL?
There's been some controversy surrounding the eligibility criteria for the PGL, so it’s important to make sure you tick all the boxes before applying.
Only a few months ago, we reported how the Student Loans Company (SLC) revoked loans for 68 Postgrad students in the UK, admitting they weren’t actually eligible for the loan in the first place.
SLC explained how the students were initially accepted as a result of human error, and that some members of staff misinterpreted the regulations when processing applications for the new Postgrad loans.
Read our complete guide to the Postgraduate Loan to find out if you're eligible (no 'misinterpretations' of the facts here, we promise).