This briefing provides details of the postgraduate loans systems in England, including the rationale for their introduction, the consultation process and the eligibility criteria.Jump to full report >>
In the 2016-17 academic year, non-means tested loans of up to £10,000 were introduced for English-domiciled postgraduate students taking Master’s courses at higher education institutions in the UK. In 2018-19, loans of up to £10,609 will be available. Non-means tested loans of up to £25,000 for doctoral students will also be introduced from the 2018‑19 academic year. Postgraduate loans, encompassing both Master’s loans and Doctoral loans, are also referred to as Plan 3 loans.
This briefing provides information on the development of policy relating to postgraduate loans, including the rationale for their introduction, the consultation process and the eligibility criteria. It refers only to the English loans schemes.
Following an initial announcement at the Autumn Statement 2014, in March 2015, the Coalition Government published a consultation on a proposed system of loans for postgraduate Master’s courses. In its response to the consultation, published in November 2015, the Government stated that loans of up to £10,000 for both taught masters courses and research-based masters would be available from 2016-17. Some minor changes have been made to the loans scheme since its introduction. Under the scheme as it stands for the 2018-19 academic year:
In 2016-17 home and EU entrants to taught postgraduate courses were up by 22% among full-time and 9% among part-time students. The funding council has attributed these increases to the introduction of loans.
The Complete University Guide’s annual surveys of fees suggest that the average home fee for a taught postgraduate course increased by 16% between 2015-16 and 2017-18, from £5,901 to £6,848. It has been suggested that the availability of loans may have been a factor behind the rise.
Following earlier announcements, Budget 2016 reaffirmed the Government’s intention to introduce loans for doctoral students and a technical consultation on the proposed scheme was launched in November 2016. The consultation closed in December 2016.
Budget 2017 confirmed that the Government would introduce doctoral loans from the 2018-19 academic year. The Government’s response to the consultation was published on the same day as the Budget. Under the scheme:
Commons Briefing papers SN07049
Authors: Susan Hubble; David Foster; Paul Bolton