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Postgraduate Education

Volume 487: debated on Monday 9 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills if he will increase the funding available for students from poorer backgrounds to pursue postgraduate studies. (255307)

This Government acknowledge the value of postgraduate studies. However, we have to prioritise the funding available. Our priority is to ensure that finance is no barrier to students achieving a first degree: that is why statutory student support is concentrated on undergraduates.

However, there are also a number of measures in place to help people finance postgraduate studies. For example, we recently announced proposals to reposition career development loans as a key additional source of support to help people finance learning, as new professional and career development loans (PCDLs). PCDLs will offer more people the opportunity to reskill and improve their employment prospects by offering more generous terms for the learner, such as loans up to £10,000 and lower interest rates.

Funding may also be available for individuals through the Access to Learning Fund (ALF). The fund allows universities and colleges to provide extra discretionary support for students in particular need; it is administered directly by universities and colleges, which are best placed to assess students’ circumstances.