What will the knock on effect of rising tuition fees be on postgraduate applicants?

So far the focus of the rise in tuition fees has been on future undergraduates (as well it should be) but what about the knock on effect to postgraduate study.

We’re currently in the process of surveying our highly active and engaged users to get their views on postgraduate courses and how they could be affected by the rise in tuition fees. The research will form the basis of a white paper that will be made available for FREE on this site. To be the first to know about it’s release sign up for our recruitment newsletter or follow us on Twitter @Insight_TSR and we’ll be sure to let you know.

The concern amongst those starting university in 2012 is clear across The Student Room’s 250+ forums, as potential undergraduates wait to find out what price each university will place on their degrees. Oxford and Cambridge have already expressed their wish to charge the maximum £9,000 fee, as has Imperial College London and Exeter, whilst Liverpool Hope is the first institute to announce it will not charge the maximum fee.

We are expected to have to wait a while longer before any set prices are revealed in detail, one of the reasons for this being a current lack of knowledge on the guidelines universities must meet if they wish to charge the full £9,000.

However whether the cost of a degree in 2012 is £7,000 or £9,000 it will be considerably higher than the current situation and whilst students won’t have to worry about paying it back until they are earning over £20,000, just the thought of the size of their student debt is likely to put financial pressure on students.

What will this mean for postgraduate applications?

With an undergraduate degree creating such a large financial burden for students the thought of adding to this by financing a postgrad course is likely to put many off, particularly as their isn’t the same level of government support as with an undergraduate degree.

A recent article in the Guardian identifies that postgraduate courses are in need of some level of state funding to at least subsidise their high cost, with the fear being that UK students will be priced out and courses becoming dominated by international students. The number of overseas students enrolling on taught master’s degrees has trebled in the last 10 years whilst domestic growth is a more modest 40%.

With more students than ever applying for a place at university and an ever increasing number of graduates competing for jobs, a postgraduate degree would be of significant benefit to help students stand out from the competition.

The Student Room’s dedicated Postgraduate forums are busy with discussion about various courses and institutions as well as a number of threads specifically around the financial constraints of a postgrad course. Most notably is ‘The Official Funding questions/moans/possible joy Thread’ that has over 450 posts to date from students worried about funding their education beyond their first degree.

With money playing such a big role in the decision to study an MA, MSc or PhD already it is important that the rise in tuition fees does not lead to students being put off postgraduate courses for financial reasons. We will have to wait and see what the government white paper on the funding for university teaching reveals to see how much support future postgrads can expect.

Fingers crossed!

See also

A report into how an increase in tuition fees will influence the HE choices of future students
The Student Room Survey: The new face of Higher Education