The National Postgraduate Committee (NPC) was formed in 1992 to act as a representative body for postgraduates. We have a sabbatical General Secretary plus fourteen non-sabbatical officers; it is, however, the students unions that affiliate to NPC which govern the Committee. NPC is constitutionally separate from NUS, but it is not a rival; the two bodies often work together, on postgraduate funding and other campaigns, one recent example being the AUT/NPC/NUS employment charter for postgraduates who teach.
One of our biggest campaigns is postgraduate funding. Some postgraduates are fortunate enough to have their tuition fees paid in full by, and receive full support for living costs from, the Governments Research Councils, but most postgraduates receive no support whatsoever no grants, no loans, and no support for tuition fees usually in excess of £2,800 per year. NPC believes that one's financial position should not be a barrier to accessing postgraduate courses, and calls on the Government to provide whatever support is necessary to open up postgraduate
programmes to academically able applicants from any financial background.
Why is postgraduate funding important?
NPC does its best to campaign for the best interests of UK postgraduate education, but no campaign is effective without good arguments to back it up. Why should the Government listen to demands to improve access to postgraduate funding?
The answer lies with the Government's own arguments: their commitment to move towards a knowledge-based economy. As undergraduate numbers have expanded to take in 33% of 18-30 year olds, with plans to increase this to 50%, a Bachelor's degree is ceasing to become the standard qualification expected of applicants for many jobs. Many employers are now expecting a Master's or PhD as a standard qualification for jobs where, in the past, a Bachelor's was sufficient. Thus, to be eligible for these jobs, one must be prepared to invest thousands of pounds in a postgraduate education - many people simply do not have this amount of money. If the Government is serious about a workforce that is trained to the best of its ability, it must be prepared to include postgraduate courses in its plans.
It is also in NUS interests to wholeheartedly include postgraduates in its funding campaign. The NPC welcomes all the efforts NUS makes to include postgraduates in its campaigns.