The Postgraduate Review

During a speech at Birkbeck University on the 27th of July Lord Mandelson announced a review of postgraduate provision in the UK, to be led by Professor Adrian Smith, Director General of Science and Research at BIS.

The review will, in part, build on earlier contributions to the HE Debate, in particular the issues identified by Nigel Thrift and Paul Wellings.

Postgrad student, image CC licensed from Tulane University

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Terms of reference

The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Minister for Higher Education and the Minister for Science and Innovation have commissioned an independent review of the provision of postgraduate study in the UK. This review will address the nation’s future requirements for postgraduate provision, covering both taught masters courses and research degrees, and how this provision can best meet the needs of business, academia, public services and the wider economy.

The review’s principal areas of investigation will be:

  • to assess the competitiveness of UK institutions in the global market for postgraduate education. This should consider the factors which influence the attractiveness of the UK as a location for overseas postgraduates and which influence UK students to pursue postgraduate study in UK institutions.
  • to assess the benefits of postgraduate study for all relevant stakeholders.
  • to assess the evidence about the needs of business and other employers for postgraduates, whether taken from taught or research-based courses. Patterns of provision by institution and discipline will be examined for their impact on the effectiveness of the research environment.
  • to examine levels of participation, in terms of who undertakes postgraduate study, and whether there are barriers affecting the diversity of participation and reducing the availability of high-quality entrants. This will include an assessment of the extent to which postgraduate (especially taught Masters) degrees are seen as the minimum qualification for entry to certain professions, and the extent of co-funding by employers.

The review should take into account the earlier contributions to the HE Debate, in particular the issues identified by Nigel Thrift and Paul Wellings. Its recommendations need to be consistent with the current context of the public finances in the coming years. Its findings are likely to form an important part of the evidence taken by the Fees Commission, to enable future postgraduate provision to develop within the longer-term funding landscape.

The review will report interim findings to Ministers in late 2009, with a final report expected in spring 2010.

Your input

The deadline for submissions to the review was 18 December 2009. Thank you for all of your comments and submissions, which will inform our findings and recommendations.

If you have any further questions about the review, please email