Postgraduate funding support for students from Wales
The Diamond Review, chaired by Professor Sir Ian Diamond, recommended a number of changes to the funding of higher education in Wales in its report The Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance Arrangements in Wales.
The panel made nine sets of recommendations, including recommendations on undergraduate and postgraduate student support and funding arrangements to be introduced for the 2018/19 academic year. The Welsh Government opened a consultation on its response to the recommendations that closed on 14 February 2017.
Key proposals in consultation
The key proposals for postgraduate students in the consultation document are as follows:
An interim loan programme to support postgraduate students for 2017/18. The loan of £10,000 made directly to the student, would provide a contribution towards study costs.
The loan would have a repayment threshold of £21,000 (frozen until 2021) and repayable concurrently with undergraduate loans at 6% of salary.
For 2018/19, up to £17,000 in the form of a grant and loan (the ratio of each dependant on individual financial circumstances). The funding will be available to full-time students and part-time students studying courses at 50% intensity, or where there is no full-time equivalent and the course takes up to three academic years to complete.
Unlike the system for undergraduates, the funding is a contribution towards overall study costs, rather than specific support for tuition fees and maintenance, to make it more flexible to the individual student’s needs.
The funding is portable can be used for an eligible course at any university in the UK, not just at universities in Wales.
Points for further clarification
These 2018/19 proposals sit underneath the heading ‘postgraduate taught Masters provision’ in the consultation document, although other references in the text refer to postgraduate study in general. It is slightly unclear whether this term is to avoid confusion with the Diamond Review’s postgraduate research proposals and is being used as an umbrella term to cover masters-level study or whether the funding recommendation is just for taught programmes (PGT).
The Welsh Government’s response to the Diamond Review document [http://gov.wales/docs/dcells/publications/161117-response-to-recommendations-en-v2.pdf] includes the caveat “consider the sustainability of the proposals and the potential need for the introduction of controls on student numbers/costs”
As soon as more clarification on these points is available, we’ll let you know.
The Diamond Review on postgraduate research funding
The panel recommended a programme to support a new generation of researchers in Wales with 150 scholarships/bursaries for postgraduate research (PGR) students. Each scholarship/bursary would initially be available for three years and cover fees/maintenance (a stipend at Research Council rates).
The Welsh Government’s response document goes a little further:
“In addition, we confirm that the Welsh Government intends to offer additional loan support for postgraduate research students who are not successful in obtaining a scholarship/bursary. This support will be available on the same basis as that offered by England.”
Read the proposals in the current consultation document at https://consultations.gov.wales/sites/default/files/consultation_doc_files/161117-student-support-consultation-doc-en.pdf
Read the Welsh Government’s response to the recommendations from the Diamond Review at http://gov.wales/docs/dcells/publications/161117-response-to-recommendations-en-v2.pdf
Read the Diamond Review online at http://gov.wales/docs/dcells/publications/160927-he-review-final-report-en.pdf