Postgrads too poor to study

According to University figures, 1,000 post­graduates reject Oxford places annually for financial reasons. Statistics published last year show that 7,500 graduate offers are made by the University. Around 15 per cent of those who are made offers decline, citing insufficient funding. 

This news follows a call from the Independ­ent Higher Education Commission to change postgraduate funding, arguing, “The vast ma­jority of postgraduate provision still benefits from a degree of public funding or subsidy. We need a mixed economy funding system, with di­verse funding streams and sources of income.”

An Oxford University spokesperson told Cher­well, “Ensuring access to postgraduate study re­gardless of means is a national challenge.

“Oxford offers more postgraduate financial support than almost any other UK university, but even here finance is still a challenge. Ox­ford has been proactive in highlighting this national issue and works very hard to provide more financial support – both by fundraising for scholarships and by lobbying for a national loans scheme.”

In November, the NUS announced proposals that loans of £6,000 should be made available for postgraduates. Luke James, an NUS officer for postgraduate students, said, “We need a reasonable cap on fees that allows leeway for universities to cover their costs and have finan­cial security, whilst not allowing students to be overcharged and laden with obscene debts.”

Chris Gray, OUSU Vice-President for Gradu­ates, told Cherwell, “OUSU is fully aware of the problems of postgraduate access and has been campaigning for more funding for years. Postgraduate access is not an Oxford-specific problem, and in fact Oxford has more funding available for postgraduate study than any other British university. It is because of this that we also need a national solution. That is why OUSU supports the calls for a national postgraduate loan scheme, a position with which the Univer­sity now agrees.”

62 per cent of research students and 17 per cent of Master’s students at Oxford receive full funding, with an additional nine per cent of both receiving partial scholarships. The larg­est scholarship programme is the Clarendon Partnership awards, which provide full schol­arships for around 100 graduates each year. In October, the university invested £40 million in the Graduate Scholarship Matched Fund, which tops up all donations for graduate funding us­ing University funds.

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Individual colleges also provide postgradu­ate funding. A spokesperson for Wolfson Col­lege, the college with the largest number of graduate students, told Cherwell, “For the aca­demic year 2013/14 the College will award schol­arships to the value of £160,000, which will increase to around £340,000 for the academic year 2014/15.”

However, Abdossalam Madkhali, President of Linacre College Common Room, told Cherwell, “It is frustrating sometimes to see bright col­leagues get accepted into a DPhil program, but no funding is offered.

“This needs to be tackled further by the cen­tral university administration as well as col­leges. In such a very competitive institution, there will be always a need to do more, and to give more.”