Wales politics

Part-time postgraduate support in Wales scrapped

University students Image copyright PA

Support for part-time postgraduate study has been scrapped due to a reduced budget this year, the body in charge of funding Welsh universities has said.

The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales has announced how it will allocate £132m of public money.

Research and part-time undergraduate provision has been prioritised.

But it warned the increasing cost of the student tuition fee grant could also impact higher education funding.

HEFCW received a reduced budget from the Welsh Government this year, though the cut of £11m was less than originally feared.

Scrapping support for part-time postgraduate study - which received £6.5m last year - was one of the outcomes of a lower budget settlement, it said.

As well as funding from HEFCW, universities receive student tuition fees of up to £9,000 per student, which include more than £5,000 per year through the tuition fee grant for Welsh students.

HEFCW's budget from the Welsh Government has dropped as the tuition fee grant payments have increased.

It is estimated tuition fee grants will cost the Welsh government £237 million in 2016-17.

But it has told HEFCW that it might withhold another £21m of its budget if the cost exceeds this sum.

For the next academic year HEFCW allocated:

  • £80m for research
  • £27m for part-time undergraduate courses
  • £15m for higher cost full time courses in medicine, dentistry and the performing arts
  • £6m for Welsh language provision through the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol

Dr David Blaney, chief executive of HEFCW, said: "Using HEFCW funding, universities and other higher education providers can continue to ensure part-time courses are as accessible as possible by keeping the cost down.

"These courses must continue to be an attractive option for students whose circumstances are not suited to a full-time course.

"Research funding accounts for over 60% of our total allocation and, as the largest public investor in research in Wales, we are pleased that we can continue to provide universities with this critical research funding.

"The increasing cost of the tuition fee grant may impact further on these funding allocations.

"The findings of Professor Sir Ian Diamond's independent review of higher education funding and student finance arrangements will be critical to informing a future policy that provides a sustainable balance of investment between Welsh students and Welsh higher education providers."

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