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British Postgraduates Outnumbered by Internationals at UK Universities

Since 2008 there have been more International students than British students studying postgraduate courses at UK universities, according to a recent report.

In the 2012-2013 academic year, 52% of UoN’s UK-based postgraduates were from overseas. Of the 7,910 student body, 3,775 were British and 4,135 were EU/International.

The 1994 Group (a consortium of 11 smaller research-intensive universities such as UEA, Loughborough and Goldsmiths) published the report, ‘Increasing postgraduate opportunities: Proposals for funding’, last Thursday.

Whilst some financial help is available for postgraduate study in the form of bursaries and grants, many students have to rely on family finances or career development loans.

It reveals that whilst the number of postgraduates in the UK has risen by 42% in the past decade, the cause is largely due to an increase in overseas student numbers by 90%. In comparison, home students have only increased by 23%.

“In 2002 there were four UK taught postgraduate students for every three from overseas” the report says. “Since 2008, they have been outnumbered every year.”

“There is a lack of a coherent and sustainable funding system for British students to be able to go onto postgraduate study”.

The findings will bring into question whether the funding available for British students to pursue postgraduate study is sufficient. Whilst some financial help is available for postgraduate study in the form of bursaries and grants, many students have to rely on family finances or career development loans.

Laura Theobald, Postgraduate Students Officer at the University of Nottingham Students’ Union (UoNSU), told Impact: “What this report highlights is the lack of a coherent and sustainable funding system for British students to be able to go onto postgraduate study”.

She added that UoNSU have been working alongside the NUS in “lobbying the government and the University for a fairer funding system”.

“The majority of these (international) students will eventually return to their home countries, taking their newly gained skills, knowledge and expertise with them”.

Postgraduate courses’ tuition fees vary depending on the course and institution. At the University of Nottingham a taught MA in English Literature costs £4,370, whereas MSc Finance and Investment costs £9,250. Overseas students are often charged significantly more; MA English Literature comes in at £11,990 and MSc Finance and Investment at £17,250.

David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, says that the government is investing £75m to support ‘less-advantaged students’ into postgraduate education.

However, the 1994 Group report adds: “Since the majority of these (international) students will eventually return to their home countries, taking their newly gained skills, knowledge and expertise with them, this trend has consequences for the UK’s global competitiveness.”

Robert Smith 

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