Government-backed loans for students do not solve the problem of access to post-graduate study

Prof Neil Ward, who welcomed the announcement. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Prof Neil Ward, who welcomed the announcement. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: Archant Norfolk

The Chancellor's plans to 'revolutionise' funding for postgraduate students don't solve the problems in Higher Education, a UEA officer said.

For the first time, anyone studying for masters degrees will be eligible to borrow up to £10,000 from the government to help cover the costs of their course.

There is currently no government-backed masters funding, and the loans announced in the Autumn Statement would offer better rates than the bank loans many students take out.

In his speech, George Osborne said: 'Until now there has been almost no financial support available, and the up front costs of postgraduate degrees deters bright students from poorer backgrounds.

'So today, across all disciplines, we will make government-backed student loans of up to £10,000 available, for the first time ever, to all young people undertaking post-grad masters degrees.'

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But UEA postgraduate education officer Liam McCafferty said a further rethink was needed.

'There's a crisis in terms of access to post-graduate study, but I don't think this solves that problem,' he said.

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'What's needed is a more comprehensive approach and look at the way post-graduate funding is dealt with as a whole.

'It's not really a sustainable system, it's still a system based on debt. We need to be looking at a more radical solution such as writing off some undergraduate debt or a more comprehensive grant scheme.'

The loans, which would be income-dependent, are set to be available from the academic year 2016/17 and would be open to all students under 30 doing a postgraduate taught masters course.

It is expected the loans will benefit around 40,000 students and final details will be announced following a consultation.

Pro Vice Chancellor Academic at UEA, Prof Neil Ward said: 'We are very pleased with the news, particularly the fact that the loans will be available across all disciplines.

'Recruitment of postgraduates has suffered in recent years, in part because of changes to undergraduate financing. This will help more people into postgraduate education and any help is welcome.'

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