million+ welcomes government consultation on postgraduate loan scheme
The university think-tank million+ has today welcomed the publication of a government consultation on a postgraduate loan scheme for masters and doctorate students in England.
The idea of a loan scheme was first proposed in the 2014 Autumn Statement by George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who used his March Budget to propose the extension of the scheme to research students. Professor Michael Gunn, Vice-Chancellor of Staffordshire University and the Chair of million+, has previously written to the Chancellor pointing out that some of the Treasury’s proposals were likely to limit access to the scheme. The consultation has been published a day before the dissolution of the Westminster Parliament. Implementation of any final scheme will therefore be a matter for the next government.
Professor Michael Gunn, Vice-Chancellor of Staffordshire University and Chair of the university think-tank million+, said:
“I welcome the government’s support for a postgraduate loan scheme. The consultation is an important first step in recognising the challenges faced by those who would like to study at postgraduate level. However, it will be important that the final scheme maximises opportunities, including for those who want to study at postgraduate level on a part-time basis or when they are older.
“The age limit of 30 and the proposal that postgraduate and undergraduate loans will have to be repaid concurrently, will result in high taxation rates that are likely to limit take-up and may mean that the scheme does not address the social mobility problems that have been highlighted by Ministers.
“Universities that support part-time postgraduate study will also have to think carefully about whether a scheme that requires study at 50% is really fit for purpose when many part-time postgraduate students study on a more flexible basis.
“The next government would be wise to consider these issues if postgraduate students at masters and doctorate level are to be given the support that they so obviously need.”