Graduate schools on the up and up

April 28, 1995

One third of universities now have graduate schools and another quarter have definite plans to establish them in the next few years, according to the UK Council for Graduate Education.

But the Council's Report on Graduate Schools warns that quality must be maintained if the schools are to be effective: "The diversity of structures which is now emerging in higher education institutions in the UK suggests this role is not necessarily always the highest priority on the agenda of every institution seeking to create a home for the graduate school. A graduate school which is only the postgraduate office with a new name is not worth the cost of changing the letterhead. Institutions that have set up a graduate school for marketing purposes or as a window-dressing will find it difficult to compete in this market atmosphere."

According to the survey 85 per cent of graduate schools are in "old" universities, although a fifth of former polytechnics and one in ten colleges of higher education also have them.

The report was compiled by a working party chaired by Peter Scott, professor of education at the University of Leeds. It argues the growth in postgraduate numbers has led to a movement across Europe to "professionalise" postgraduate education, and the growth of graduate schools has been part of this process.

The number of registered postgraduates increased from 102,000 in 1982/83 to 220,000 (of whom 32,000 were overseas fee paying) in 1992/93 - up 115 per cent, compared with an increase of 70 per cent for first degree student numbers over the same period.

Trends drawn from institutions' strategic plans by the Higher Education Funding Council for England show many institutions will continue to increase their postgraduate numbers. The number of postgraduate degrees awarded by the Council for National Academic Awards increased by 194 per cent from 1979 to 1989.

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