Newcastle University's efforts to help UK and EU students from low income backgrounds study for a postgraduate degree at a top university have been boosted by a new Government grant.
Totaling nearly £3m, the funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), is the result of a successful consortium bid led by Sheffield University which includes the universities of Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Warwick and York.
Match funding takes the total amount to over £5 million. This will be spent by the six institutions on initiatives to attract and support disadvantaged students into postgraduate education.
The cash forms part of a larger £25 million pot to be distributed to universities and colleges as part of HEFCE’s Postgraduate Support Scheme (PSS), aimed at increasing access to postgraduate education. Completing a postgraduate degree has been shown to increase social mobility and access to the professions and plays a crucial part in creating a skilled workforce.
The grant will be used to boost take-up of students studying taught postgraduate programmes, particularly amongst under-represented groups such as mature students and people with caring responsibilities, with pilot products kicking off from 2014.
These will include new financial support packages for postgraduates, including scholarships and career development loans, as well as new academic products to encourage and enable graduates to enter postgraduate study with a focus on higher-level skills and their post-study professions.
The cash will also help fund targeted interventions including information, advice and guidance to promote and facilitate entry to postgraduate study. Work will take place to establish an evidence-based understanding of which groups are under-represented in postgraduate study and why, drawing on sources of data which are uniquely available to the institutions involved. These findings will be used as a benchmark for evaluating the success of the interventions.
Professor Ella Ritchie, Deputy Vice Chancellor at Newcastle University, said: “Social mobility is one of the biggest challenges that the UK faces today. We need to ensure that people from all backgrounds have the opportunity to train in the professions such as medicine, the law and architecture. This money will allow us to do more to support those students who may be put off following the best training for them because they lack the financial support that might be available to people from more wealthy backgrounds.”
published on: 19 December 2013