The statement came amid warnings of a “brain drain” of students across the border if the Cardiff government does not match the offer in England of loans of up to £10,000 for master’s students aged under 30, which was announced in the chancellor’s Autumn Statement.
NUS Wales called on the Welsh government to confirm details of any additional cash it would be receiving from Westminster under the Barnett funding formula, and to match the spending commitment.
“English universities will be able to offer courses to Welsh students who will have the option for £10,000-a-year loans. If Welsh universities aren’t in a position to offer the same, how can Wales expect to compete?” said NUS Wales president Beth Button.
“The danger is Wales could suffer a brain drain of the brightest and best postgraduate students going to study at English universities with more generous funding support.”
Postgraduate loans are expected to be available in England from 2016-17, with the government hoping to encourage about 10,000 additional learners to embark on postgraduate study every year.
The Treasury puts the initial cost of the system at £1.5 billion over four years. The loans would be paid back concurrently with undergraduate loans, with a consultation on the detailed design of the scheme expected early next year.
A Welsh government spokesman confirmed that chancellor George Osborne’s announcement covered students applying for support from Student Finance England only.
“We will consider the detail and look at all the options before deciding on next steps for Wales,” he said.
The spokesman added that postgraduate funding is one of the areas to be considered by the review of higher education funding in Wales that is being led by Sir Ian Diamond, the principal of the University of Aberdeen.