University postgraduate system 'failing UK economy'

 
Laboratory The report says the UK's economy needs more home-grown postgraduate researchers

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The postgraduate system in the UK's universities is failing to produce the number of highly skilled staff needed by a modern economy, a report warns.

The Higher Education Commission says the system is geared towards attracting overseas students, rather than training more UK students.

The report warns that the UK is falling behind in investing in research.

A Department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokeswoman said: "We recognise there are some concerns."

The study from the Higher Education Commission calls for urgent reform of the postgraduate sector, saying that in its present state it will cause long-term problems for the UK's economy.

Postgraduate research has become increasingly important for innovative, hi-tech industries.

Tuition fees

But the Higher Education Commission, an independent group of education and business leaders, warns that the UK's current system seems to neglect UK students and instead is driven by universities wanting to recruit overseas students who pay high levels of tuition fees.

It says this risks making the UK the "education outsourcing capital of the world" - training international students rather than providing home-grown talent for UK firms.

Start Quote

The postgraduate sector needs to be brought in from the cold”

End Quote Graham Spittle Higher Education Commission and IBM chief technology officer

Without an expansion of UK postgraduate students, it will mean UK firms will have to recruit more staff from overseas - or even have to re-locate to countries with a higher skilled workforce, the report says.

"We can't compete with countries like China and India on numbers, but we can compete, and win, on ideas and innovation. The postgraduate sector needs to be brought in from the cold and hardwired into the UK's strategy for economic growth," said Graham Spittle, IBM's chief technology officer, who chaired the group preparing the report.

The report identifies the scale of the growth of overseas postgraduate students - up 200% since 1999 - compared with a rise of 18% for UK students.

Within the group of countries in the wider European education area, it says that apart from England and Wales, the only other countries to have so few home students staying on for postgraduate are Andorra and Kazakhstan.

It calls for a reform of the support available for postgraduate students - so that they will not be deterred by higher tuition fees or difficulties in getting loans.

Earlier this year a report from the 1994 Group of research intensive universities warned of a looming crisis in postgraduate education - with a warning that successive governments had failed to address the problems facing this sector.

The vice chancellor of Oxford University has also highlighted his concerns about the funding of postgraduate studies.

A Department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokeswoman said: "We have asked the Higher Education Funding Council for England to monitor and review participation in postgraduate study as part of a longer-term assessment of the impact of the funding changes."

 

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  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 140.

    @ 123 Ian Savell - You are incorrect in saying that you need to have a masters to do a PhD. I did a PhD having gained "only" a BEng. The first year of the PhD meets the requirements for an MPhil which allows you to carry on studying for a PhD.
    I agree with others, the funding is there (at least for science) but foreign students are also funded and pay much higher tuition fees.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 139.

    Unis chasing the $! - Is the Pope a Catholic?

    This happens even at undergrad level, for example: Look at the recent proliferation of Forensics courses (Unistats says: 256), I doubt whether there are 100 graduate placements p.a. in the whole of the UK in this filed, but we have 256 courses full of students!!! - what a misdirection of talent.

    Emelia Fox has a lot to answer for.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 138.

    Money makes the world go round, capitalism, greed and the fight for 'their' profit's and 'their' political ideology is paramount.

    The banker's, politician's and CEO's and board members are all guilty of stealing from the tax-payer.

    But yet they blame the poor, pensioners, student's.

    The people/corporate fraudster's who steal from the tax-payer is who we need to deal with.
    Greed must be stopped

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 137.

    What the education system needs to do is focus more on PPE, at least then the ingrates will understand the politics behind forcing povos through our universities doors.

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 136.

    I chose academia where you're lucky to get a permanent job within a few years of graduating!So I've spent 3 years since my PhD shuttling between part-time University jobs with no stability & little money.When I tried stepping outside academia, I was 'overqualified' to do the same job I had done part-time throughout my MA & PhD. Employers do not recognise the transferrable skills of postgraduates!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 135.

    All they have to do is stop offering out mickey mouse courses such as media studies and focus on PPE at least then the ingrates would understand the politics behind it.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 134.

    Isn't this a problem with the whole university sector. Foreigners pay more partly because it gets them into Britain. Universities trade on this fact & are not too fussy which foreigners they take.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 133.

    I completely disagee with the reason for the lack of home postgraduates. As an oversea postgraudate myself and now UK citizen, I can testify that it is not lack of funding or jobs. It is simply because there is not very much pay premium put on getting a postgra degree, as is the case in other countries. Not only that, you also limit your scope of employment. UK students are simply not interested.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 132.

    Hey Doctor Bob 119 - that will be PDF, academics know nothing!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 131.

    I started my 3 year funded PhD with a cohort of 75 of which 5 were British. I worked in between degrees to clear debts. This increases your opportunities for academic and industry jobs but more importantly when doing my fieldwork allows me to leverage my network. Most of my cohort never worked, yet complain about future job prospects due to lack of experience. You can have it both ways!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 130.

    @121. mac fae stirling
    what point are you making. the 'media' is a billion pound industry and employs thousands.

    You may be right, however, my point is that it does not require many degree qualified employees and when I say degree I mean a proper one as awarded in the 60's and 70's as against these ersatz items now awarded by aspirational polytechnics to every Tom, Dick and Harriet

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 129.

    @116, In Life-sciences, there are different levels of Ph.D funding. Most UK funding bodies will only fund someone with a UK (or sometimes EU) passport, with UK students getting their tuition fees paid. So the stuff about getting overrun with foreign students is absolutely wrong. We do have many foreign students doing Ph.Ds in our department, but they provide their own funding and pay tuition fees.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 128.

    I remember the C4 programme - "Faking It". In one episode a post graduate research scientist became a magician. He ended up giving up doing the research to take up the role permanently. It just shows how much scientists are valued in this country.If you want the best people, money needs to be found, to pay good salaries.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 127.

    #111 presario: You have committed a false dichotomy fallacy in your retort to me. Just because I said universities should not be about serving the business community does not mean I subscribe your your fevered imagingings about my position. Try thinking more next time, or does that not figure in your "universities should be about serving the business community" point of view?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 126.

    Seems the economy is failing post-grads. I have said for years that only DEMAND OCCUPATIONS should be allowed at post-secondary institutions so that graduates will gain employment opportunities. This may sound non-democratic, but any student that wants to study NON-DEMAND occuptations can do that on-the-side, as a hobby, using the money from his/her gainful employment.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 125.

    I think its nonsense that we can outpace China and India on innovation and ideas. Smart people come up with smart ideas, and they have many more smart people than we do (just from the sheer numbers). This myth will disappear when these nations catch up to the forefront of technological research.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 124.

    105 @PaulWelsh90

    Perhaps you missed the point of the article. It's not about post-grads getting jobs in banks, it's about industries not being able to recruit suitable postgrads.
    "Postgraduate research has become increasingly important for innovative, hi-tech industries."

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 123.

    It seems to me that the funding system is at fault. To get on a PhD you have to have a masters, there's very little funding for masters courses so that throttles the PhD entry. I was lucky enough to have both my masters and PhD funded by a company.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 122.

    Maybe, just maybe, employers want something that's not very obtainable from graduates i.e. the employer's expectations are far too high and they expect to employ them on the NMW? Employers are totally unrealistic.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 121.

    110 - well jolly good for you..... but what point are you making. the 'media' is a billion pound industry and employs thousands.

 

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