As you may be aware, George Osborne announced plans for postgraduate student loans for 2016 in his Autumn Statement. I have collated the main points of this announcement in a bid to help identify the: Who, what, when and how’s and the potential opportunities to the University and ‘young’ graduates; in addition to what implications this may have on our marketing and recruitment work.
WHO, WHAT, WHEN AND HOW’S?Who?
The proposed loans are for students under the age of 30, studying a postgraduate taught masters in any subject at an English university. It is predicted that this will benefit 40,000 students each year, and will bring an extra 10,000 students into postgraduate study.
Loans will be available for up to £10,000 and will be for tuition fees and maintenance. Repayments rates are yet to be confirmed, but they will potentially be higher than undergraduate loan rates, but below commercial rates.
The loans will be available from September 2016. Prior to this HEFCE will allocate £50million to Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to offer bursaries of £10,000 each on a match funded basis.
How are they funded?
Like their undergraduate counterparts, the postgraduate student loans will be funded by the Government through Student Finance England.
How will they be repaid?
The precise details are yet to be announced, but it is expected that postgraduate loan repayments will run concurrently with undergraduate loan repayments once graduates are earning above the £21,000 threshold.
WHAT OPPORTUNITIES WILL IT PROVIDE?Graduates
1. Young graduates will have the opportunity to continue directly on to a taught Masters course without self-funding, taking out a commercial loan or searching for alternative forms of funding.
2. Recent graduates in the early stages of their careers will have the chance to develop future career opportunities, without being tied to their employer through employer funding contracts, or more expense forms of funding.
University of Chester
1. This should be seen as good news for the University, as it will potentially allow us to increase pull through of our final year students and recent graduates.
2. With a predicted 10,000 additional postgraduate students, we have an opportunity to increase our Masters’ student numbers.
3. There is potentially an opportunity to target Welsh graduates; depending on whether the Welsh Government put in place a similar scheme to encourage studying Masters’ courses in Wales.
WHAT IMPLICATIONS WILL IT HAVE ON OUR MARKETING AND RECRUITMENT WORK?Until the full details of the loan scheme is decided upon in early 2015 we will not know the true implications of the new loan scheme, but with the information currently available the following can be predicted as potential implications.
The most immediate and probably most important implication of the announced loans is the effect they will have on applications and enrolment for 2015 entry. Will it cause a dip in applications and enrolment for 2015? Or will there just be an increase in deferral from 2015 to 2016 entry? Either way, we need to make sure we do whatever we can to protect any potential fall in student numbers for 2015 by looking at alternative markets and focussing on conversion of all enquiries and applications we do get.
With the age limit on the proposed loans, we will potentially need to divide our target market into those under the age of 30 and those over 30. This may increase the complexity of our marketing messages, as the loans need to be a key message we communicate to our current students, recent graduates and enquirers that are eligible for the loan.
Once the full details are announced in 2015, we will be in a better position to prepare for any changes required; however until then, it is worth considering what the potential implications might be.