November 12, 2004

Postgraduate education is one of the success stories of UK higher education. The growth in student numbers, particularly from overseas, has not led to a decline in quality, and new universities in particular have shown themselves skilled at exploiting what was for many a new market.

But there are warnings. The static nature of demand for research degrees among UK students is creating an over-reliance on overseas doctoral students, particularly in science.

Overall, demand for Anglophone postgraduate education exceeds supply, but overseas demand can be volatile. Universities relying heavily on one country for their supply of overseas students could suffer serious financial losses if the supply dries up.

It is also likely that overseas students will become better informed and more demanding, obliging institutions to invest heavily to maintain their position. It is important that they respond positively.

It is important, too, that action is taken to rationalise and clarify what is a confusing - and sometimes misleading - jumble of qualification titles.

* The full report - of which this is a summary - is available on the Hepi website at

Postgraduate education in the UK
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