In his Budget speech, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, gave a brief mention of new measures being implemented by the government in support of postgraduate researchers, including masters and PhD students. As it was only a brief mention, we took a closer look at the budget support papers and outline more of the finer detail below.
One of the key points was that postgraduate research students are to be offered loans up to the value of £25,000 (income-contingent and in addition to any existing funding). The government will carefully design these, in consultation with universities, industry and research councils, so that they fit well with existing funding streams and support the very best research. The government will also be looking into how it can better support and fund postgraduate research to strengthen the UK’s skill and innovation base. This comes on the back of the drive to get more people into higher education, which appears to be working — during the academic year 2014-15 more young students from disadvantaged backgrounds applied to university, and were accepted, than ever before.
The quality and volume of doctorate-level research in UK universities is accepted as extremely high. Yet the supply of people with doctorates is completely outstripped by the demand – there simply aren’t enough of these highly qualified individuals to fill the jobs and that’s true in both the UK and internationally. Moreover countries which are competing aggressively for top researchers, particularly China and the US, have increased their university PhD enrolment numbers significantly in recent times whereas the UK’s numbers have remained fairly static. So, the news on this front is that the government is set to bolster the support for postgraduate researchers by way of both the aforementioned loan and a strengthening of partnerships between research universities, government, industry and charities. They will also carefully monitor the number of research positions and funding available so as to make sure that the UK remains a competitive postgraduate research destination on the global stage. They will also increase their support for the crowd-funding of research with a view to attracting investments from both individuals and business.
Universities from across the UK will also be at the heart of a £100 million investment into cutting-edge research projects as part of the ‘strategic science and innovation investments’ which were also announced in the Budget last week. This is all part of the government’s aim to make the UK a global leader in emerging markets and technologies. That will no doubt be helped by the declaration that research institutes will be given greater freedoms in the ways they can attract the brightest minds, re-invest commercial income and develop cutting-edge technology.
So … a very good week indeed for UK universities and postgraduate masters and PhD students!
The Document Centre wishes them well and looks forward to supplying university thesis and dissertation binding to many of the masters and PhD research students in the near future. It sounds like there may be more printing and binding for us to do very soon! Call us on 020 7928 9738 if you have any print or document binding requirements and we’d be delighted to help. We are based just 10 minutes’ walk from London Bridge Station and deliver free to many of the London universities.