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.
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.”