The introduction of the postgraduate master’s loan for the 2016/17 academic year has led to a dramatic transformation in the landscape of postgraduate taught (PGT) education in the UK. The number of first‑year PGT students in the UK has increased by 58% between 2015/16 and 2020/21, compared with a 11% increase in the number of undergraduate students over the same period. While undergraduate fees have been capped at £9,250 since 2017, average PGT fees increased by 60%, from £9,465 to £15,150 between 2015/16 and 2021/22. This considerably faster than the increase in the value of the postgraduate loan, which increased only by 18% from £10,000 in 2016/17 to £11,836 in 2021/22.
These trends mean universities have become increasingly reliant on PGT fees as a source of income. For example, the contribution of PGT fees to King’s College London’s income has increased from 11% in 2016/17 to 19% in 2020/21, and it is no exception. PGT fees as a proportion of total income for higher education institutions (HEIs) in general have steadily grown from 8% in 2016/17 to 12% in 2020/21.Continue reading “Universities’ increasing reliance on postgraduate taught fees as a source of income and its potential drawbacks”