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British Academy announces new research project into how student debt will affect future postgraduate participation

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The British Academy has commissioned new research, to be carried out by NUS Services Ltd (NUSSL), to examine existing attitudes towards debt, the information available to students about debt, and the impact debt has on decisions to continue with further postgraduate study once they complete their degree. As part of the research, NUSSL will contact approximately 50,000 current students and 15,000 recent graduates to invite them to contribute their views.

The project follows the Academy’s recent position statement on the issue, Postgraduate Funding: The Neglected Dimension, which expressed concerns about the lack of financial support for students studying postgraduate courses. With tuition fees now at £9,000 per year for many students, the level of debt incurred during an undergraduate degree may deter many from pursuing postgraduate study at a time when the UK needs more and more highly qualified individuals to be competitive in the global economy.

Professor Nigel Vincent, Vice President for Research and Higher Education at the British Academy, said: “As we already noted at the time of the Browne report, this is a timebomb for UK research and one that has been ticking for more than two years. The government has so far failed to address the challenges facing postgraduate students, and by its neglect risks harming the UK’s research base. This lack of action is also potentially damaging to efforts to ensure more people from disadvantaged backgrounds study at postgraduate level. We need more information about the burden of debt being taken on by UK students and how this may be preventing them from developing the skills needed to expand our economy.”

Elizabeth Bone, Head of Group Research at NUS Services Ltd said: “We do not know enough about how debt is likely to affect students in the future. This is an important piece of research that will provide more information and evidence about a policy that will affect millions of students.”

Editor’s notes:

  1. For further information, images and interviews please contact the Press Office onpress@britac.ac.uk or 020 7969 5263.
  2. The British Academy for the humanities and social sciences. Established by Royal Charter in 1902. Its purpose is to inspire, recognise and support excellence and high achievement in the humanities and social sciences, throughout the UK and internationally, and to champion their role and value. For more information, please visit www.britac.ac.uk.
  3. Follow the British Academy on Twitter @britac_news

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