Report warns university postgraduate system is failing UK students
A new study has advised that an urgent overhaul of Britain’s postgraduate system is necessary to ensure that the right numbers of highly-skilled workers are produced.
The report, by the Higher Education Commission (HEC), suggests that the postgraduate system is becoming more and more heavily geared towards training international students and is therefore neglecting UK nationals.
The study goes on to outline concerns that continuing to disadvantage British students will leave the UK with a massive economic shortfall and at a global disadvantage in years to come as the UK falls behind in research.
Unlike UK students, international students are unable to have their fees subsidised, meaning that they are an attractive proposition following the recession. The report warns, however, that the UK looks set to become the “education outsourcing capital of the world” unless drastic change takes place.
Further concerns have been raised over the prospect of large British companies relocating internationally because of the shortage of British nationals with postgraduate training. Britain has seen just an 18% rise in the number of British postgraduate students since 1999, compared to 200% internationally.
Chief technology officer at IBM, Graham Spittle, who chaired those who published the report, explained: “We can’t compete with countries like China and India on numbers, but we can compete, and win, on ideas and innovation. The postgraduate sector needs to be brought in from the cold.”
Peter Lampl, chair of The Sutton Trust which improves educational opportunities for young people, agreed, saying: “We must make the most of all our talents, and that is no less important in postgraduate studies which are now dominated by overseas students. It is vital that our brightest graduates are not priced out of postgraduate study.”
The report ended by calling on the government to create a committee to look at the viability of extending the student loans scheme to postgraduates nationwide.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills responded, saying: “We recognise that there are some concerns in the sector about postgraduate provision. We have asked the Higher Education Funding Council for England to monitor and review participation in postgraduate study as part of a longer term assessment of the impact of the funding changes.”