Fairer funding for undergraduates

Although NPC is a representative body for postgraduates, it recognises that the systems of undergraduate financial support have an effect on postgraduate students; (almost) all postgraduates were undergraduates once. There are several reasons why NPC supports improved funding for undergraduates.

Many postgraduates start their programmes shortly after completing an undergraduate degree. Unless a student gets support from his/her parents way beyond the level expected by the Government, it is near-impossible to complete an undergraduate degree without running up
a large overdraft, which is often carried over to the start of any subsequent postgraduate course. Although the repayment of Student Loans and (if ones bank is feeling charitable) bank overdrafts can be deferred, many postgraduates are forced to extend their overdrafts beyond the interest-free limit because of accumulated undergraduate debts. Often, graduates simply do not contemplate postgraduate education; it is very difficult to persuade a person to forego 1-3 years of a graduate wage to do a Masters or PhD when he/she usually owes circa 12,000 to the Government and/or the banks.

The present system of undergraduate funding is a deterrent to potential students entering higher education in the first place. The Research Councils are increasing their stipends for funded PhDs, to encourage more graduates to start PhDs instead of taking a job; this does little, however, to prevent the loss of potentially great researchers and academics who never entered higher education in the first place.

Finally, there is the worrying possibility that the Government will introduce student loans with commercial rates of interest. This would be especially bad for postgraduates, as every year of postgraduate study would cause one's student loan debt to grow in real terms, with a three-year PhD potentially increasing a students debt by 25%. It would be counterproductive to the Governments drive to create a trained workforce.

NPC supports:

  • The restoration of the maintenance grant for undergraduates;
  • Increasing Student Loans for undergraduates to meet their living costs and remove any need to take out overdrafts;
  • Opposing the introduction of student loans with commercial rates of interest.