The NPC is involved in a number of campaigns to enhance the student experience for postgraduates.
Students, including postgraduates, should be encouraged to take part in extra curricular activity for a number of reasons. At postgraduate level, this is often not sold very well. The key selling factors for postgraduate study are normally the location and reputation of the institution as well as the competitiveness of the tuition fees and the graduate employability of the course. Unlike undergraduate education there is not a great deal to sell in terms of student life, and many postgraduates find the experience disappointing when they arrive at the institution. This aspect of the postgraduate market, however, is an increasingly becoming addressed and the availability of Wednesday afternoons is a vital aspect of making access to student life possible.
In January 2005, government ministers confirmed, as reported in the Guardian, that trainee teachers will be charged up to £3,000 a year in top-up fees from 2006.
The NPC passed a motion at the 2005 Annual General Meeting to oppose the introduction of tuition fees to PGCE students, restoring the exemptions from fees that has previously been granted to all PGCE students.
Working alongside NUS, Aldwych, CIS and UUK amongst other bodies, the NPC is opposing the removal of the right of appeal to a visa.
The right to appeal a visa denial is first and foremost standard good practice in public administration so that Entry Clearance Officers are accountable for their decisions. Furthermore, evidence show that appeals are useful for international students, with government figures from 2003 showing that 25% of student visa appeals were successful! Furthermore the Immigration Advisory Service reports that of the appeals which they handle, 60-75% international student visa appeals are successful. The question is whether any visa application tests for international students can be objective, and where an Entry Clearance Officer is involved surely there is always risk of human judgment and error? A system with no appeals process is certainly an off-putting one for prospective international students.
The coalition is a unified group against any further extension of the market in education which all partners believe will act as a deterrent to students from poorer and under-represented backgrounds.
The coalition is based on the following principles.That we are:
- United in opposition to the creation of markets in education.
- United in opposition to a variable tuition fee
- United in opposition to the removal of the £3,000 cap.
Postgraduates that teach
The teaching unions AUT and NATFHE together with the National Postgraduate Committee and National Union of Students seek to ensure students that teach are recognised as undertaking a professional activity which is an important aspect of continuing professional development.
Council Tax for Writing Up Students
The National Postgraduate Committee and National Union of Students have worked together to lobby for council tax exemption to be applied universally to writing up students for a specific period of time. We feel that it is grossly unfair that students writing up, often full-time, are not classed as exempt or registered as students to enable them to access institution facilities and student union and association support. We feel that exemption would remove the burden of financial pressure and stress at a crucial period of time to ensure postgraduate students successfully complete their programmes.
Simon Felton, Tim Roll-Pickering and Richard Angell met with Bill Rammell MP to discuss this matter and have produced a briefing note to encourage the DfES and DCLG to review their definition of writing up students and council tax exemption.
The document can be downloaded below: