Posted Monday 9 December 2013
A Kingston University-led consortium has been awarded £1.85 million Government funding for a major project that will encourage more students to progress on to postgraduate study in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) is a significant boost for the £2.7 million project, which has also attracted contributions from other stakeholders.
The HEFCE grant is part of its new £25 million Postgraduate Support Scheme that will provide work placements and financial and pastoral support to more than 2,800 students at 40 universities across England. A key aim of the scheme is to encourage students who would not otherwise progress to this level to take up masters study. HEFCE has selected 20 universities to lead specific projects with partners that include other higher education institutions and employers.
Kingston University will be heading the largest of the collaborative projects. Its aim is to encourage students to continue on to postgraduate study in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and then track how they fare after graduation. Kingston will be one of nine English universities working on the project to investigate the expectations and attitudes of students, universities and employers towards postgraduate programmes taught in these subject areas.
Scholarships will be available to cover the fees of 40 postgraduate students at each of the universities and the partners will develop mechanisms to support the students involved.
Kingston University academic Michelle Morgan, a respected national and international student experience practitioner and one of only a small number of British researchers specialising in this area, is leading the project. She is confident it will enable institutions to better understand the barriers, drivers, motivations and outcomes for their students.
"It will help us to understand what postgraduate study is, and, more importantly, what we want it to be," she said. "It should result in more targeted and sustainable support for students; improved course design, providing students with the skills required by businesses and industries; and strategies that lead to the sustained growth of the postgraduate science, technology, engineering and mathematics study market in the United Kingdom."
Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said the Government wanted talented graduates from all backgrounds to feel inspired to continue their education. "Postgraduate study is good for students, good for universities and good for the economy," he added. "This £25 million investment will help develop partnerships, explore different ways of financing postgraduate study and attract students from less advantaged backgrounds to postgraduate education. It will also provide a big boost to our internationally-renowned postgraduate sector."
Plymouth, Portsmouth, Brighton, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Lincoln, Teesside and Manchester Metropolitan are the other English universities involved in the Kingston consortium. While the remit of the HEFCE scheme is to investigate the postgraduate experience in England, universities in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are also heavily involved in the study and have provided additional funding.
All told, the project has been awarded £2,741,285. The figure includes £1,859,909 from HEFCE, along with contributions from the other project stakeholders. It will get under way in January and is expected to conclude in March 2016.