The Diamond Review and the Future of Postgraduate Provision in Wales
Professor Gareth Rees FLSW has published a piece on WonkHE on the future of postgraduate provision in Wales.
Just before Christmas, the Diamond Review on student finance and higher education funding in Wales published its Interim Report. The Review will now get on with developing its policy recommendations, submitting its final report to the Welsh Government’s Minister for Education and Skills in September (safely after the elections to the National Assembly for Wales in May).
The approach to postgraduates adopted in Wales has been significantly less generous than in other parts of the UK. From 2014-2015, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) has progressively restricted its financial support to part-time postgraduate taught programmes, and to postgraduate research provision. Moreover, the Welsh Government has not matched the UK Government’s introduction in England of postgraduate loans from 2016-2017.
The Interim Report makes clear in a succinct, 3-page section (out of 117 pages in total), that the Diamond Review acknowledges these funding issues. Considerable attention is paid to the NUS proposal to introduce in Wales an income-contingent loan scheme for taught postgraduate programmes.
As analysis conducted for the Learned Society of Wales shows, past patterns of postgraduate participation in Welsh universities parallel those in the UK as a whole. Over the longer-term, there has been a substantial growth in postgraduate numbers (by more than 80 per cent since the early 1990s), largely accounted for by the increase in postgraduate taught students. Since 2010-2011, this pattern has been reversed. There has been a decline of some 10 per cent, entirely attributable to a drop in the number of postgraduate taught students, especially on part-time programmes. Postgraduate research students have continued to increase over this recent period, albeit only modestly.