Bulk of postgraduates ‘ineligible for loans’

Student Funder’s chief executive says an analysis shows that more than half of prospective students will miss out on the new government scheme

March 5, 2015

About two-thirds of postgraduates could be ineligible for a loan scheme that the government hopes to roll out from 2016-17, it has been suggested.

Juan Guerra, chief executive of Student Funder, an alternative finance provider, told a conference that many students would miss out on the loans of up to £10,000 or would require further funding.

Postgraduate funding has recently come under scrutiny after chancellor George Osborne announced a government loan scheme for taught postgraduate courses at the end of last year. According to the initial outline of the scheme, only students from the UK and European Union under the age of 30 would be eligible for funding.

Speaking at a Westminster Higher Education Forum event on 24 February about the future of undergraduate and postgraduate fees, Mr Guerra said that he had done an analysis based on the 2012-13 intake of postgraduate taught and research students, excluding doctoral candidates. He told the forum that “roughly 60 per cent of the…intake would not have been eligible for a government loan”. The model was based on the assumption that the proportion of students over the age of 30 in that cohort was the same as the proportion of people over 30 in the general population.

The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills said that the terms of the proposed postgraduate loan system have not yet been confirmed. A BIS spokesman said: “We will be issuing a public consultation shortly to help design the policy.”

The conference also heard from Peter Ainsworth, managing director of investment advisory firm EM Applications, who has been behind previous proposals to introduce private finance to pay for undergraduate fees. He said that higher education had “no material differentiation on cost” but “significant variation in value for money”, adding that the proportion of graduates in jobs that do not need a degree was growing.

“The jobs market has changed and the overregulated, poor[ly] incentivised university system has not adjusted to the modern world,” he said.

He added: “We need to drop the Poundland mentality where price is the focus and instead adopt a John Lewis approach where value for money is what counts.”

holly.else@tesglobal.com

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