The president of the National Union of Students in Wales, Beth Button, has said Wales faces a brain drain of postgraduate study if the Welsh government does not match the postgraduate loan funding announced in the Autumn Statement.
In a telephone interview, Button said students would not want to stay in Wales, and that research in Wales as well as the economy would suffer because of the lost tuition.
“They’ll want to go study across the border in England,” Button said. “Students especially in postgraduate study will take the financial support wherever they can get it.”
Pressing for availability
Button said that she was working on setting up a meeting with the Welsh government to discuss the matter, but said it would not be held until the New Year.
On 3 December, Chancellor George Osborne announced that postgraduate loans, worth up to £10,000, would be made available beginning in the 2016-17 academic year, and would be available to students under the age of 30 pursuing a taught master’s programme. The bursary scheme, valued at £50 million and would see tuition discounts of £10,000 for 10,000 students, would be available in the 2015-16 academic year prior to the loan programme becoming active.
NUS officials were due to meet with UK government officials in London this week to discuss the availability of loans to mature students.
Button added that she would ask the Welsh government to match the bursary scheme, as well as back the availability for postgraduate loans to mature students.
“If [the government] won’t support them [postgrad students], they won’t come to Wales,” Button said.
— NUS Wales (@nuswales) December 10, 2014
Reached by email, a spokesperson for the Welsh Government said they would consider all the details of the initiative before it is made available in Wales.
Postgraduate loans and support is one of the areas being considered under a higher education and student finance review in Wales, led by Professor Sir Ian Diamond, the vice chancellor of Aberdeen University.
The spokesperson said a call for evidence for that review was recently announced.
“The Review Panel, which includes NUS Wales as one of its key partners, has launched a Call for Evidence,” the spokesperson said. “Its purpose is to capture opinion and supporting evidence that will inform the Review. We would encourage all those with an interest in Higher Education to respond.”
The final recommendations of that report are due in September 2016, according to a statement from Wales’ education minister, Huw Lewis.
How should student finance and tuition fees be funded in Wales? Tell us what you think: http://t.co/ITuODSz5f7
— NUS Wales (@nuswales) December 1, 2014
What do you think? Should the postgraduate initiative be made available in Wales? Have your say in the comments section below.