You are in :

Higher Education Funding Council for England
Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals
Standing Conference of Principals

Review of Postgraduate Education

May 1996

Reference M 14/96

Contents

The Annexes are not available in the electronic version of this document but are listed for the sake of completeness:

  • Annex A Membership of the Review
  • Annex B Terms of reference
  • Annex C Memberships of task forces and sub-groups
  • Annex D The ranking of English HEIs by number of postgraduate students
  • Annex E Task forces: key findings
  • Annex F Who is involved in assurance, audit, assessment, enhancement and accreditation of the quality and standards of postgraduate education?
  • Annex G A postgraduate typology
  • Annex H HEFCE methods of funding
  • Annex I Glossary of acronyms

Chairman's Foreword

When I was asked by Graeme Davies, then Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, to chair a review of the ways in which postgraduate education might best be structured and funded, I was delighted to accept. I knew of course of the central importance of high quality postgraduate education to the creation of the ever more highly skilled workforce which is necessary if the United Kingdom is to flourish in an increasingly complex and competitive world. I knew too of the benefits which education at this level, now delivered in a multiplicity of ways, brings to individuals and, through them, to society as a whole. And I was already aware, in general terms, of the importance of postgraduate activity within the higher education sector. What I became steadily more impressed with as our work progressed was the strength, the vitality and the diversity of the provision available to postgraduate students within our universities and colleges today. I have become more clearly aware too of the various pressures to which postgraduate education is subject, some of which are due to the ongoing reduction of resources available to higher education as a whole and some of which are more particular to the area we were asked to examine, and which we accordingly seek to address in what follows.

In commending our recommendations to those who commissioned them, I would like to thank personally all those, at home and overseas, within higher education institutions and across the broader community, who responded so constructively to our call for evidence. Your messages were consistent and we have tried to listen. Thanks too, of course, to all the members of the Review group, and all of the assessors and observers, who have given so much constructive time and energy to the work with which we were entrusted and who have made my task so enjoyable. Finally, and most importantly of all, this work would not have been completed as it has been, and on time, without the extraordinary efforts of Alice Frost and her team, especially Louise Woollard, Serena Watkins, Jennifer Knox and Gill Mackie: to them all my warmest thanks.

Martin Harris

Vice-Chancellor

University of Manchester

May 1996


1: Executive Summary

1.1 The genesis of this Review of Postgraduate Education lay in the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), which wished to be sure that its funding methodology remained appropriate for a rapidly growing and evolving postgraduate (pg) sector. For that reason, as far as questions of funding are concerned, we have inevitably focused on the position in England, although we naturally hope that what we have recommended may be perceived as relevant also in other parts of the UK. It became apparent very early on, however, that questions of quality and standards would be central to our task, and as these matters remain very much the responsibility of individual universities and colleges, the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals (CVCP) and the Standing Conference of Principals (SCOP) were invited and agreed to co-sponsor the review. This in turn had the effect of making our remit a truly national one, and the recommendations to institutions are intended for consideration throughout the UK, since it is after all on the reputation of UK higher education (HE) as a whole that the standing of any individual university or college in part depends. Finally, we intend that our report should be made available to the Committee of Inquiry to be chaired by Sir Ron Dearing, so that it may inform their deliberations on this aspect of their remit.

1.2 The education and training of pg students plays a central role within the total range of activities undertaken by higher education institutions (HEIs), alongside, and partly as a result of, the massive growth in undergraduate (ug) numbers. In 1979, for example, there were 100,900 pg students in the UK compared with a total student population of 787,000 (13%), whereas in 1994-95, the comparable proportion was 21% (315,400 and 1,528,600 respectively). Of these, 257,300 were pg taught (pgt) students and 58,100 were pg research (pgr) students (82%, 18%) while, using a different parameter, 128,300 were full-time (f-t) (41%) and 187,100 were part-time (p-t) (59%). Most recently, because of the capping of ug student numbers, the proportionate growth of pg students has been noticeably faster than that of ug students (11% and 7% respectively over the last two years).

1.3 While much attention has been paid over the last few years both to the way in which the growth in ug numbers should be funded and to the way in which the quality of ug education should be assured, there has been no comparable discussion in respect of the pg sector. And yet, within an HE system dedicated to excellence, and to the maintenance of research of the highest quality, the health of that sector is of the greatest importance. Pg work after all embraces a multiplicity of activities, all predicated on the assumption that those who undertake it have already satisfactorily completed a Bachelor's degree (or achieved experientially a comparable level of attainment). These activities range from those which, while chronologically pg, focus more on broadening rather than deepening the student's experience, through those which are taught at a more advanced level, through those which involve a substantial element of research training and/or an element of personal research, to the full-scale doctorate in which the research element predominates. Pg work may be f-t or p-t, and taught pg courses may be structured in conventional ways or presented within a modular framework, with the ultimate award based on credit accumulation. Pg tuition or supervision may be delivered on campus or, increasingly, off site or by distance learning; it may well be part of a formal or informal programme of lifelong learning. We believe that lifelong learning will be a highly significant factor in the future development of the pg sector.

1.4 All this hugely varied provision fell within our terms of reference, all of it needs to be appropriately funded, by whatever means, and all of it needs to be of adequate quality and reach an appropriate standard. Our recommendations seek to address these issues.

1.5 As far as funding is concerned, we were very clear that the rapid growth in numbers of pg students, particularly pgt students, without any commensurate growth in public funding, is an issue that needs to be addressed at once. Our principal conclusion is that no further transfer of resources from the (already inadequate) funding for ug students is acceptable, and that HEFCE should fund separately in its teaching model ug students and pgt students, as it does already pgr students, with minimum recruitment targets agreed for each category equivalent to the present contract student numbers (CSNs).

1.6 We then considered whether or not there should be some upper limit on the size of the pgt sector, through the equivalent of a Maximum Aggregate Student Number (MASN), but decided that this would unduly restrict developments in an area where contributions from students or employers are often already a major factor in the income stream pertaining to a particular course.

1.7 Accordingly, we are recommending that HEFCE teaching funding for pg students should be set, both for the system as a whole, and for individual institutions (the latter subject to continuing convergence in the units of funding for individual institutions, determined by HEFCE as appropriate, but not taking account of new growth). However, institutions should be free to continue to expand provision beyond their CSNs as they judge appropriate, on a cost-recovery basis or by such further efficiency savings as they judge to be possible, using their HEFCE block grant as they consider most appropriate. The result of this policy, if implemented, will be that any further reduction in the unit of resource for pg students permitted by a particular institution will be limited to that institution, and not allowed to affect the funding of others.

1.8 Our recommendations seem to us to allow the maximum freedom of action to universities and colleges, while ensuring that they can plan more securely (since they are less affected by the actions of others). Above all, there would be no financial incentive from HEFCE for institutions to expand further the number of pg students they recruit, so that further erosion of the funding available to teach ug students is, at least from this source, prevented. The overall division between the funds provided by HEFCE in respect of ug and pg numbers should be reviewed from time to time.

1.9 The reason for this set of key recommendations is clear. UK graduate education has a deservedly high reputation worldwide, and one of our prime motivations has been to identify ways whereby this can be maintained and strengthened. An often repeated message from many of our respondents was that a strong ug basis was a sine qua non for high quality pg work, and that this foundation should not be undermined. We accept that view, and believe that our funding recommendations should help in this respect. There are, however, other issues relating to the quality of pg work which need to be addressed.

1.10 The first is the powerful evidence of widespread confusion, at home and overseas, about what the now hugely diverse pg sector is offering. While those within our profession may understand clearly the distinctions between pg in time and pg in level or between pgt and pgr, most other people do not and the nomenclature adopted (which also overlaps with advanced ug work, as in MEng programmes, for example) serves only to confuse them still further.

1.11 We are therefore recommending that institutions be asked to describe, annually, in electronic and/or printed form, all of their pg provision, characterized (very briefly) in terms of a small set of criteria by which students and/or their sponsors can be much surer than they are now as to what they are likely to obtain in any particular case. The framework for the directory we recommend is set out on page 35. In due course, accurate description within such a framework might become a condition of funding.

1.12 Perhaps more ambitiously, we urge the sector to move as rapidly as possible towards a coherent and consistent nomenclature for qualification titles, and we propose for consultation a basis on which that might be done. A critical element in this is achieving greater clarity in the use of the masters title. Our proposals would in essence reserve a small set of generic masters titles, perhaps MA and MSc, for pg courses containing an element of personal work which is externally examined, while using quite specific subject masters titles (for example, MEcon, MPharm) for advanced taught courses lacking such an element. Our view was that a further distinction between pg diplomas (broadly pg in time but not in level) and masters courses (pg in level) was desirable, although this might be difficult to achieve, given (as noted above) the use of the masters designation for a number of four-year ug courses. These recommendations would clearly need to vary somewhat to take account of local circumstances, particularly in Scotland.

1.13 We also considered the question of quality assurance mechanisms for pgt provision. We were unanimous that no special mechanism would be appropriate or indeed acceptable for assuring the quality of pgt provision. Rather, we welcome the ongoing moves towards a single quality agency and recommend that its remit includes that of monitoring appropriately, and reporting separately on, pgt provision in all contexts where relevant, including where pgt courses contribute to research training. It seemed clear to us that, for a variety of reasons, the quality of ug and of pg teaching in an institution might not be identical in a given subject area, and that students and others should be made aware of this when relevant. It was equally clear to us, however, that such appraisals should be part of one integrated programme and not lead to yet more burdensome bureaucracy.

1.14 As far as the important question of pgr students is concerned, there were inevitably more diverse opinions amongst ourselves, as well as from our respondents and witnesses to our inquiry. In essence, however, we have concluded that some of the concerns voiced to us from a number of quarters do need to be addressed. Firstly, what may be expected of and by a student enrolling for an MPhil or PhD or professional doctorate in a UK HEI needs to be spelled out clearly, and the annual 'description' mentioned earlier should address this. Secondly, we also recommend the formal adoption by institutions of a code of practice for pgr education, based on much recent work by the Higher Education Quality Council (HEQC), the Research Councils and the British Academy, the British Council and others, relating to the recruitment, reception and supervision of pgr students, whether from the UK or overseas.

1.15 Such a code of practice would require institutions to have in place appropriate facilities and supervisory arrangements (which would be auditable) specific to a particular potential pgr student, and to have made entirely clear to such a student before admission what his or her commitment (including total financial commitment) would need to be. In due course, adherence to such a code would become a condition of HEFCE grant for pgr students in a particular institution. We were all clear that pgr students, appropriately defined, should continue to be an element in determining HEFCE funding for research.

1.16 More controversial, perhaps, will be our view that pgr students should normally only attract HEFCE research grant in subject areas within institutions which have a pervasive research culture, and can deliver excellence in research education. We make proposals in this vein in chapter 5, together with suggestions as to how some of the obvious possible consequential difficulties of undue ossification might be avoided or at least minimized.

1.17 Finally, we were clear that the current market-led system for planning the pg sector, whereby individual institutions develop provision in conjunction with students and employers, is effective and has contributed to producing a sector with the strength, vitality and diversity which we have identified. This does not, however, downplay the very significant contribution that can be made by national bodies in stimulating and enhancing provision in certain circumstances, which we identify in what follows.

1.18 Our report, therefore, is essentially a set of recommendations, whether to HEFCE (and we hope also to the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council (SHEFC), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) and the Department of Education for Northern Ireland (DENI)) or (via CVCP and SCOP) to institutions, as to how the pg sector of UK HE can best be organized over the years ahead, to ensure that its deservedly high reputation can be maintained and its funding organized with the maximum of freedom to institutions consonant with the protection of the quality of the ug base. We commend these proposals to you.


2: Introduction

I The Review

2.1 In 1995, HEFCE, CVCP and SCOP established a Review of Postgraduate Education, under the chairmanship of Professor Martin Harris, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manchester. The purpose of the Review was to address HEFCE's policy toward pg education, but also to conduct a more wide-ranging inquiry complementary to the Secretary of State for Education and Employment's review of HE. The membership of the Review group is given at Annex A, and the terms of reference at Annex B.

2.2 The main factors which prompted our inquiry, and which provided the context to our work were:

a. The last major national investigation of pg education was within the Robbins ("Higher Education Report of the Committee appointed by the Prime Minster under the Chairmanship of Lord Robbins 1961-1963") inquiry in 1963.

b. Since then, the Research Councils (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Economic and social Research Council ESRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC), Particle Physics and Astonomy Research Council (PPARC).) and the British Academy have pursued a number of important initiatives within their discrete disciplinary and mission areas, including those forming part of the implementation of the 1993 Science, Engineering and Technology White Paper "Realising our Potential". Institutions too have begun to develop their own distinct pg policies, evidenced by the creation of a UK Council for Graduate Education (UKGCE) at national level and the widespread creation of graduate schools and equivalent structures at local level. Furthermore, a UK-wide body has been established to represent the specific interests of pg students, the National Postgraduate Committee (NPC). There remain, however, significant gaps both nationally and locally, including, in particular, the fact that HEFCE has not thus far articulated any distinct policy for the pg sector.

c. Since Robbins, the pg sector has grown out of all recognition. Robbins noted 19,400 f-t and 6,300 p-t pg students in the UK in 1961-62, whereas by 1994-95, there were 128,300 f-t and 187,100 p-t pg students. This growth has been accompanied by increasing differentiation in courses and qualifications, changes in modes of study and innovation in methods of delivery of courses. Change has been most pronounced in the pgt sector. Growth and change have resulted largely from the decisions of individual institutions responding to market signals, rather than as a result of national planning.

d. Pg education provides both public and private benefits. It serves the purposes of society through its contribution to wealth creation and quality of life, expressed in a multiplicity of ways, as well as those of individuals, in terms of their personal development in the broadest sense of that phrase.

e. The contribution of pg education to lifelong learning is an important factor in the development of the pg sector.

f. Policy analysis in the United States has suggested that the main determinant of growth in pg education is the increasing number of graduates. In the UK, since 1979, there has been a 77% increase in the numbers studying at ug level, with the fastest growth occurring between 1989 and 1992.

g. Growth in ug and pg education, accompanied by reductions in per capita funding, has led to heavy pressure on the resources of the HE sector. Since 1993, in line with government policy of 'consolidation', ug expansion has virtually ceased. The sharp change in tempo, from rapid growth to no growth, has posed a challenge to institutional managements which may have planned for budget increases based on expansion of activity. Pg students, whose numbers have not as yet been subject to curb, have presented institutions with one of the few opportunities for growth, even though, of course, in recent years, no additional public funds have been made available to the system as a whole in respect of such growth.

h. Expansion of ug numbers and pressure on resources have led to intense discussions on how best to maintain quality and standards. Since what is achieved in ug degrees necessarily affects the level of accomplishment that can be expected in pg education, and given the growth and increasing diversity in the pg sector, it is not surprising that similar discussions have begun on quality and standards at pg level.

i. Over the last two decades, the policy of selectivity in research funding has sharpened, both because of the limited growth in total available public funds for research, and because of the expansion in the number of institutions that have sought research funds from the Funding Councils since the ending of the binary line between the former Universities Funding Council (UFC) and former Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council (PCFC) sectors. Pgr education is an important component of research activity.

j. Pgr education is of course not immune from the resource pressures noted above. In particular, the most recent budget settlement for HE has reduced capital and equipment funding by 30% in England, which will necessarily have a serious impact on the infrastructure available for pg research training.

k. The provision of HE, particularly pg education, is itself an internationally marketable service, in which the UK currently has a significant market share. In this context, the capacity to indicate clearly what is on offer to potential students and to demonstrate that quality is assured and standards appropriate is essential, both in its own right and as part of an effective marketing strategy.

l. Given the growth and diversity of the pg sector, transparency in describing pg provision is important, and particularly so if the sector is to fulfil its potential to contribute to lifelong learning and meet its identified purposes more generally.

2.3 As the Review was initially sponsored by the English Funding Council, the focus of our inquiry was provision within England. However, similar arrangements to those described in this report exist in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, under the responsibilities of SHEFC, HEFCW and DENI. The conclusions and recommendations which follow which we address to the CVCP and SCOP are necessarily UK-wide. Those directed to HEFCE are relevant immediately to England, but we hope that SHEFC, HEFCW and DENI will consider their applicability to their own constituencies and take forward those recommendations which seem to them to be appropriate.

II Method of work

2.4 To meet our terms of reference, we met in full session on seven occasions. We completed the scoping stage of our work, establishing the framework and boundaries of the inquiry and our working methods, at our meeting on 13 April 1995.

2.5 Following our call for evidence in June 1995 ("HEFCE, CVCP, SCOP Review of Postgraduate Education" June 1995 (HEFCE Circular M14/96)), 263 responses were received (131 from institutions, 28 from employers, 62 from Professional bodies, subject associations and learned societies, 32 from policy and other bodies and charities and 10 from individuals). We acknowledge the considerable labour devoted to the exercise by all those who responded and we are grateful for the significant body of evidence that this provided for our work. (A full list of respondents is given in the volume "HEFCE, CVCP, SCOP Review of Postgraduate Education: Evidence" published in parallel with this report.)

2.6 We established two task forces to address the issue of employer needs and to contribute to our deliberations on the future size, shape and structure of pg education, as required by our terms of reference. The memberships of the Employers' Task Force and the Academic and Research Base Employers' Task Force are given at Annex C to this report (their reports are published in the separate evidence volume).

2.7 A CVCP group was convened, under the chairmanship of Professor Gordon Conway, to discuss further the issue of a typology of pg courses. Its membership is also given at Annex C.

2.8 Professor David Wallace visited Malaysia in September 1995, and we are grateful to Yang Bergahagia Datuk Dr Johari Bin Mat, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Education of Malaysia, and Dr Mohd Yahya Bin Nordin of the Ministry, for contributing their time to discuss issues pertinent to the Review with him.

2.9 We also conducted oral evidence sessions focusing on the quality and standards of pg provision, the role of professional bodies and the international dimension to pg study. A list of participants is given in the evidence volume.

2.10 We commissioned supporting studies to our work:

a. "Postgraduate Education in England (A small-scale survey)", conducted by Professor Gareth Williams, Svava Bjarnason, and Cari Loder of the Centre for Higher Education Studies (CHES), Institute of Education, University of London.

b. Literature surveys covering the purposes of pg education, past policy statements, planning information, overseas systems of pg education and EU and other international policy on pg students, conducted by the Centre for Educational Development, Appraisal and Research (CEDAR), University of Warwick.

These studies are published in the evidence volume.

2.11 We are grateful to all the individuals and organisations cited above for the contributions they made to our inquiry.

III Boundaries

2.12 We sought to investigate the full spectrum of pg experience and qualifications, and one of our first tasks was to obtain an accurate description of that spectrum and to define the term 'postgraduate'.

2.13 We were also very aware of the importance of the disciplinary context of pg provision. There are, however, many specialist areas of pg education which would require detailed study in their own right, or a much longer period of investigation to encompass them adequately, and as a result we chose to focus on all subjects in general terms, rather than on any in detail.

IV Further work

2.14 We were asked in our terms of reference to identify any further, UK-wide, issues which should be investigated subsequent to our review. In 1996, the Rt Hon Gillian Shephard, the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, announced a Committee of Inquiry into HE, under the chairmanship of Sir Ron Dearing. The remit of that inquiry is to make recommendations on the shape, size, structure and funding of HE, to meet the needs of the UK over the next 20 years. Given these terms of reference, we believe that issues that require further work following from our review, which have not been addressed to our sponsoring bodies, fall most appropriately to that inquiry. We would therefore commend to the Dearing Committee of Inquiry, in particular, the following of our conclusions and recommendations:

a. It should take account of the considerable public benefits from pg education, which we have identified in this report, in making its recommendations for the future funding of HE (paragraph 5.13).

b. If we are to sustain high quality in pg education, it is imperative that public funds underpin delivery of a robust and effective system of ug education, educating adequate ug numbers at an appropriate quality (paragraph 5.12).

c. Public funds should continue to contribute substantially to the support of pg education and should, in particular, continue to support pgr education, as part of the public investment in the academic and research base (paragraph 5.4).

d. Funding for pgr activity to institutions should be distributed in cognisance of the quality of research and pgr education that can be provided (paragraph 5.38).

e. It should take into account the potential needs of pg students, particularly pgt and p-t students, in reviewing future student support arrangements in HE (paragraph 5. 56).


3: National needs

I Introduction

3.1 We were required by our terms of reference to draw conclusions and make recommendations on the future size, shape and structure of pg provision in England, in particular to the extent that this is funded by HEFCE to meet national needs.

3.2 As a starting point for this, we have considered the purposes of pg education and the current size and shape (by level, mode and subject) of the sector, as well as its structure in terms of the distribution of pg activity across institutions. (We return to the internal structure within institutions for delivery of pg education in chapter 4).

3.3 We have looked at the major factors that will determine supply in the future and, in particular, we have considered the effectiveness of the current market-led system whereby individual institutions decide upon the mix of pg provision which they will deliver. We have also considered the need for national intervention, including the role that HEFCE should play in determining the shape of the pg education which it funds, and that of the other major pg funding bodies, the Research Councils and the British Academy. We return in chapter 4 to the size of the pg education sector that should be supported with HEFCE funds.

3.4 Finally, we have looked at the likely future demand both for pg study and for the pg qualified, particularly in the light of developing patterns of lifelong learning.

II Purposes of postgraduate education

3.5 Pg education fulfils both private and public purposes. In the private realm, pg education in all its forms serves the needs of individuals, it stimulates their minds, and enables them to learn new skills and acquire new knowledge, and to develop intellectual and cultural appreciation - and by all these means to enhance their chances of a rewarding and personally satisfying life. Such aspirations are not unique to the pg level, but within an already more highly qualified society, and within an increasingly sophisticated world, more people are likely to seek pg study as an appropriate way to satisfy them.

3.6 In the public realm, pg education contributes directly to wealth creation. Pg study remains a principal vehicle for the development of the next generation of some of the best minds of the nation working at the forefront of their subjects and carrying the research of the country forward. It contributes to the creation of intellectual capital for industry and the economy through the preparation of qualified people; and it assists in the processes of innovation and technological development through the flow of qualified people into research-related and other knowledge-based employment. It also assists in increasing the stock of knowledge through the work of pgr students in the academic and research base, which may in turn contribute to the production of intellectual property of commercial value. It is inconceivable that the UK could compete effectively in the global economy of the future without a thriving pg sector in its HE system.

3.7 The contribution that pg education makes to the quality of life is as important a public benefit as the contribution to wealth creation. This takes two forms.

3.8 Pg education may provide opportunities for the pursuit of scholarship. Such opportunities not only provide private benefits, as outlined above, but also add directly to the cultural assets of the nation and provide a resource for further inquiry and teaching. Society would be impoverished in aesthetic terms without this resource. Moreover, there are economic benefits stemming from creatively based services and industries founded on excellence in the arts and humanities.

3.9 Pg education contributes to quality of life in another sense. A sophisticated society makes higher demands on, and seeks greater value for money from, its public and private services. Pg education provides a vehicle, and an increasingly important one, for the initial and continuing development of the professional and administrative staffs which deliver those services. As examples, the health and voluntary sectors and national and local government all draw upon pg education in this way. Pg education may also contribute to the knowledge base which informs public policy development and innovation in service provision.

3.10 Pg education serves public and private purposes through the contribution it makes to employment. It provides advanced training and delivers skills and knowledge, thus hastening the creation of a highly skilled workforce which is essential to economic prosperity and to international competitiveness. Pg study also facilitates the acquisition of top-up skills and assists career conversion, which can produce a more flexible workforce. Pgr education, in particular, is the principal vehicle for training teachers in HE, who will prepare successive generations of qualified people to form the skilled workforce of the future.

3.11 In terms of private benefits, pg education in all its forms assists individuals in gaining the jobs and careers of their choice, in developing them in those jobs and in gaining greater personal satisfaction in work - and, above all, in maintaining flexibility and widening options in terms of their longer-term employment.

3.12 Our description of the purposes of pg education is not dissimilar to that produced by the Robbins inquiry in 1963. However, one of the most significant changes since Robbins has been the increasing emphasis on lifelong learning. This may lead to higher demand for pg study in the future, as we describe in section V, and is bringing students with a wider range of learning aims into pg study.

III Current size, shape and structure of postgraduate education (All data are from HEFCE Higher Education Statistics Early Survey (HESES) for years 1993, 1994, 1995, and from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) December 1994 Student Record)

3.13 One of the reasons for the establishment of our Review was the recent growth in pg education. Pg student numbers have grown steadily over the last two decades. The Robbins report noted 25,700 pg students in the UK in 1961-62. In 1994-95, the total number of pg students in the UK was 315,400. Pg numbers have also been growing faster than ug in recent years: for example, in HEFCE-funded institutions, there was 11% per annum growth between the years 1992-93 and 1994-95, compared with 7% for ug students. Growth in the number of students has also been accompanied by changes in the shape of the sector - by level, mode and subject area. There have also been changes in the distribution of pg activity across institutions, and perhaps more importantly in terms of delivery outside the institution.

3.14 Level has traditionally been described by the terms 'research' (pgr) and 'taught' (pgt). Past policy discussion has tended to focus on the pgr sector, particularly prompted by the work of the Research Councils and the British Academy. However, the pgt sector is in fact far larger than the pgr sector and has experienced faster growth. In 1994-95, pgt numbers outstripped pgr by a factor of 3 to 1 (in English institutions, 186,400 pgt as compared with 63,100 pgr students).

3.15 A more sensitive way to analyse the pgr and pgt sectors is to consider the qualification aims of students. Previously, the pg population was segmented by the two categories 'higher degrees' and 'higher diplomas' (each subdivided into research work and taught course), but data are collected now for the HE system against a longer list of specific qualification aims. There are more numerous qualification aims for pgt study than for pgr, including pg certificates and pg diplomas, the taught masters and the taught doctorate. The principal qualification aims for the pgr sector are the doctorate and the research masters. The pgr sector has probably experienced less change and differentiation in recent years than the pgt sector, with the main development being in relation to the skills necessary to undertake research successfully, as instanced by the creation of MRes courses. The pgr sector has also been affected by the increasing emphasis on improving completion rates, in accord with public policy in recent years.

3.16 Table A below gives the numbers of students in 1994-95 pursuing study towards different qualification aims.

3.17 Another important dimension to the shape of the pg sector is mode, which is traditionally conveyed by the terms 'part-time' and 'full-time'. In addition to the considerable expansion in pg activity since the 1960s, the other notable feature of the sector is the change in the balance between f-t and p-t study, with the very strong growth in p-t provision. Robbins noted a balance of 3 f-t pg students to every 1 p-t pg student (by head count). In 1994-95, the balance was reversed, with p-t pg students more numerous than f-t by a factor of 1.4 (144,900 p-t compared to 104,600 f-t in HEFCE-funded institutions). The p-t pgt sector has experienced the fastest growth across all types of provision (ug and pg) in recent years, having grown by 52% between 1992 and 1995 (and by 287% since Robbins). Unsurprisingly, the majority of p-t pg students are in the pgt sector (about 83% of p-t students are pursuing pgt study) where they are primarily studying in areas relevant to, and often combined with, their work.

Table A: Qualification aim of pg students in 1994-95

Doctorate Research Doctorate not Research Research Masters not Research Masters PG Diploma
PG Certificate
Professional
PGCE Other (Includes NVQ and NVQ 5 and PG Credit)
England 46,600 300 28,500 98,800 59,700 17,800 2,300
UK 58,100 400 30,900 120,200 80,200 21,500 4,100

3.18 Pgt activity, in both f-t and p-t modes, is concentrated in vocationally relevant subject areas: education, by virtue of the Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE), is by far the biggest single category of pgt students (55,300 or 30% of pgt students in HEFCE-funded institutions); and there is a concentration of p-t students in the business and management category (33,200 students, representing 31% of p-t pgt students). Pgr numbers are concentrated in quite different subject areas: science is the biggest category (18,000 or 29% of total pgr), followed by engineering (10,300), humanities (8,000) and social sciences (6,000).

3.19 Pg education has also become an increasingly important 'export' for the UK. In 1994-95, there were 97,600 overseas (non-EC) students, and also 60,700 non-UK EC students, in the UK: of these, 28,600 and 11,900 respectively were pg students. Around half of all overseas students were from Asia.

3.20 In terms of the structure of pg education, the vast majority of provision is conducted by HEIs. (The total number of pg students in further education institutions (FEIs) in England was 1,800 in 1994-95, or less than 1% of total pg numbers.) Annex D provides statistical information on the distribution of pg activity across institutions: the ranking of HEFCE-funded institutions in terms of total pg student numbers and in terms of pgr student numbers.

3.21 Nevertheless, existing statistics mask the fact that, increasingly, pg learning may be validated or provided by an HEI, but the student may actually be based outside the institution, such as in the workplace or at home studying, for example, through distance learning. While information technology (IT) and other new media are also increasingly important in the delivery of pg education, in a context where lifelong learning is becoming increasingly prevalent, many people at work will continue to need access to some forms of pg education near their homes or places of employment. The increasing provision particularly on a p-t basis by HEIs in dispersed locations spread across all regions is most important to the successful spread of lifelong learning.

Data definitions

3.22 The most significant impression of the pg sector which we have gained from our evidence, and which is conveyed in the statistics above, is its increasing size and scale, its growing diversity in terms of the range of provision offered, modes of delivery and situation of learning, and its differentiation in terms of specific qualifications and related learning aims, both of courses and of individual students. These characteristics are most notable in the pgt sector. While these are the strengths of the pg sector, they present an enormous challenge to accurate description, as well as to statistical presentation and data capture.

3.23 Complexity begins with the definition of a 'postgraduate' student. The traditional definition of a pg course is that the normal entry requirement is the possession of a first degree. As the CHES report prepared for our inquiry highlights, this traditional definition is challenged by the accreditation of prior learning, by credit transfer and by the inter-relationships between continuing education and ug and pg education. As an example, those without the formal qualification of a degree may meet the entry requirement for a pg course and hence be regarded as pg students, but graduates who attend continuing education courses are not automatically regarded as falling within the pg sector.

3.24 Equally, we have found the traditional distinction of 'level', as conveyed by the terms pgr and pgt, woefully inadequate to capture, and hence reveal, the degree of intellectual challenge to be found in the diverse and extensive range of pg courses. In particular, evidence to our inquiry pointed to a lack of transparency in the boundary between pgt and pgr categories because of the need to expose more explicitly the training and skills elements within pgr activity. In addition, evidence highlighted the lack of clarity in the boundary between ug and pg provision (both in terms of the incorporation of ug materials in pg courses, and because of confusion over nomenclature, through, for example, the use of the masters title for both ug and pg courses).

3.25 Classification by 'qualification aim' is also increasingly imprecise. Current pg courses are probably more diverse than can be captured by the existing range of qualification titles. The distinctions between courses associated with qualification titles, and hence the meaning conveyed by the title, are not clear. And, finally, qualification titles are not used in standard ways by different institutions or in different subject areas.

3.26 Terminology for 'mode' and 'subject' area are similarly challenged by the diversity of the pg sector. The category part-time now encompasses a wide range of types of courses, including credit-based and modular and other flexible provision. And in terms of precision in subject classification, we note from the CHES report that growth in pg study in interdisciplinary areas has recently been most marked.

3.27 It became clear during our inquiry that ways of achieving a more accurate description of the pg sector were required. We conclude: that the lack of precision in existing terminology for the pg sector hampers consideration of demand and supply (which is our task in this chapter). It also presents problems for assurance of quality and standards and for effective and fair methods of funding, two issues which we explore later in this report.

IV Supply

3.28 The supply of opportunities for pg study and therefore the number of the pg qualified is determined by institutions who provide pg education, and by the funders of that provision. Pg education is funded from private sources, including students and employers, but it is also supported significantly by public funds, primarily from the Higher Education Funding Councils (HEFCs) and the Research Councils and the British Academy. We analyse the funding of pg education in detail in chapter 5.

3.29 Since Robbins, there has been little national policy for the pg sector as a whole (Past policy statements are summarised in the CEDAR literature surveys, published in the evidence volume to this report), although the Research Councils and the British Academy have established a range of important initiatives, primarily for the pgr sector. Government policy statements have focused on the rationale for public funding, which has been linked to employment needs, but no national targets have been set. In particular, HEFCE, which is the major funder of pg education in England and hence could have a very significant effect on supply, has not had an explicit policy on the numbers and mix of students that it will fund, but rather has responded largely to institutional plans.

3.30 The upshot of the above is that the pg sector of today, and particularly the fast growing pgt sector, has been shaped by a series of individual decisions, that is, by individual institutions developing and providing courses in the light of the demands of employers and potential students. Prior, therefore, to developing a detailed manpower model for the supply of pg education in the future, we asked ourselves two questions. First, has the existing market-led system for determining supply been successful? And second, what are the prospects for the greater success of a more explicitly planned system - that is, one in which HEFCE would take a more active role in shaping provision?

Local planning

3.31 In response to the first of these questions, we were impressed by the evidence we received that institutions are extremely attuned to the market opportunities for putting on courses where they can attract students or where funding is available. The size and diversity of the sector which we have described previously in this chapter is testimony to this fact. We also received evidence from employers stressing that their needs will vary considerably between sectors, and even between individual employers, and hence that only through individual interactions between providers, employers and students will the mix and nature of provision that will be helpful in employment emerge. (It is important in this respect to remember that institutions themselves are major employers of pgr students, as well as significant producers of research and scholarship to which pg education contributes.) We conclude: that institutional determination of the supply of pg education is essential and should be maintained.

3.32 We were aware that pg students can bring significant rewards to the institution, both directly in the form of fees, and indirectly through providing important opportunities for staff development. Pgr students also underpin research activity with all its associated benefits. There are inevitably concerns therefore that supply may be determined by institutional needs, rather than in the best interests of students. We believe, however, that the system can work to the best advantage of students, employers and institutions. We conclude: that institutions in determining the nature of the courses study which they provide, and the level of entry to these, need to pay particular regard to the employment opportunities that follow pg study as part of assuring the quality and standards of the provision.

3.33 In terms of institutional determination of employment-relevant provision, we were reassured by the evidence to our inquiry which highlighted a multitude of exciting developments. These included involving employers and professional bodies in curriculum development and course establishment, validation and review, collaborative research programmes and validation of in-house company training programmes and the creation of other specifically vocational and professional courses. The enhancement work undertaken by the Research Councils and the British Academy to encourage employment-relevant provision was also perceived as very influential. We note that employment considerations are also taken into account in the quality assessment work conducted by the Funding Councils (for example, the development of generic and transferable skills, employment destinations data and employer opinion where relevant) and in the work of the HEQC (for example, in their programmes on professional and occupational standards and on the employability of those with pg qualifications). We commend this work.

3.34 Another important aspect of employability is the acquisition of appropriate generic and transferable skills during the pg course. A valuable description of these, in general, is provided in "Skills for Graduates in the 21st Century" produced by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR). We note that the nature and development of generic and transferable skills needs to be appropriate to the level of the course; and the 1993 Science, Engineering and Technology White Paper provides a useful description of the nature of such skills for the pg sector.

Institutional sponsorship of postgraduate students

3.35 One of the recent trends in pg education has been the increasing number of pg students (primarily pgr students) supported by institutions themselves (for example, 10,000 or 5% of home and EC students in HEFCE-funded institutions in 1994-95 were supported in some form by institutions). Support for pgr students by institutions has been in recognition of the part they play in research and scholarship, and in order to fulfil the institution's responsibility to develop the next cohort of teaching and research staff. Support for p-t pg students has been in recognition of the very important and distinctive part played by provision other than f-t in the institution's service to its local economy and to society more generally.

3.36 Institutional support takes the forms of award of studentships and bursaries, waiving or mitigating of fees and provision of opportunities for postgraduate students to support themselves by becoming Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs). We conclude: that institutional support of pg students is one effective way of ensuring that the supply of opportunities for pg study is in balance with demand. This is subject to the proviso we make in paragraph 3.32 on institutions having regard to employment relevance.

3.37 We recognise that there are concerns about the welfare of pg students who support themselves by teaching, and also concerns about the effectiveness of the tuition provided to ug students by GTAs. We conclude: that employment as a GTA (that is through payment by the institution for teaching duties) is a useful source of support for pg study, as long as GTAs - and indeed all other pg students who teach - receive appropriate guidance in teaching, and the institution ensures that duties are commensurate with the proper pursuit of pg study. We consider that 180 hours per year is a reasonable maximum teaching commitment

3.38 Given that many pg students may go on to work in HE, we conclude: that it would be very valuable if institutions were to provide relevant pg students with access to appropriate training towards becoming an HE teacher. This will not be wanted by all pg students, for example those from overseas and those who are clearly embarked upon another career path.

The role of HEFCE

3.39 In response to our second question above on the greater effectiveness of a planned pg education system, virtually all those replying to our call for evidence were sceptical about wholesale supply-side manipulation and, in particular, about more explicit planning by HEFCE. This scepticism arose in part because of the difficulty of specifying demand across the full range of provision which HEFCE supports, and in part because of past experience of supply-side action, which has either failed entirely or been mistimed so as to precipitate later shortages or excesses. In addition, we took account of the evidence from past policy statements on manpower planning (Summarised in the CEDAR literature surveys in the evidence volume). Again, virtually all such reports have argued against supply-side manipulation. The Advisory Board for the Research Councils (ABRC) Swinnerton-Dyer report ("ABRC Report of the Working Party on Postgraduate Education" HMSO April 1982 (Cmnd 8537)) possibly provides the most detailed description of the many pitfalls of predicting supply and demand for the pg qualified, and has summarised most thoroughly the arguments against national planning of this sort: we do not repeat these here.

3.40 We conclude: that wholesale national planning of the shape of pg education would present more dangers than benefits, and that the most effective system for meeting national needs is primarily a market-led system.

3.41 Consequent upon our conclusion above, we recommend to HEFCE: that its primary objective with regard to the future supply of pg education should be to ensure the health of the pg sector which it funds (that is a sector which can deliver pg education of appropriate quality and quantity), and to facilitate a system whereby individual institutions can respond most effectively to the demand of students and employers. We discuss in paragraph 3.46 the special role of HEFCE in relation to the humanities.

National stimulation: Research Councils and British Academy

3.42 Despite our endorsement of the institutional determination of supply, our attention has been drawn to some deficiencies of a wholly market-based system for determining supply. We have considered, in particular, the reports of the Technology Foresight Programme (TFP) panels and steering group as illustrating some of the prospective areas of demand, and possible gaps in existing supply. Some of the main areas of market failure which we identified are:

a. Innovations in provision, including anticipation of new areas of demand and new forms of provision.

b. Interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and cross-disciplinary study, which may need more conscious nurturing than the market will provide.

c. Gaps in subject coverage and the emergence of new subject areas, as a market system may not be sufficiently finely tuned to pick up micro-areas of disciplines which require rejuvenation, and may not anticipate new disciplinary areas (art and design were cited to us as examples).

d. Areas of generally low demand, which are also temporarily unfashionable.

e. Market failure in relation to areas of research activity, where additional stimulation in the production of pgr students may be required to fuel the supply of researchers.

3.43 Unlike the Funding Councils which support all subject areas, the Research Councils and the British Academy each have discrete missions in relation to specific disciplines and user communities. They support pg students in order to develop very highly qualified people and to produce research and scholarship, taking account of the needs of the research base (their own institutes and HEIs) and of related industries and of other employers. The Councils and the Academy (the latter through its Humanities Research Board) provide studentships only for home and EC students, and supported 6% or 13,300 home and EC pg students in HEFCE-funded institutions in 1994-95 (predominantly f-t pgr students: 37% of f-t pgr students were supported by the Councils and the Academy). Support of pg students by government departments and charities (supporting around 8% of home and EC students) may be regarded as having analogous purposes.

3.44 We discuss later in this chapter the likely greater demand for pg study, but note here that this puts even heavier pressure on the Research Councils and the British Academy to provide support for individual students, without necessarily increased funds. This is particularly true in the social sciences and the humanities; in which subjects there are increased numbers of appropriately qualified applicants for support because of ug expansion.

3.45 We conclude: that the Research Councils and the British Academy should continue to play an important role in ensuring that there is proper attention to discrete areas of demand, and in stimulating supply where there is market failure. This system seems to be effective and is likely to become even more so through exercises such as the TFP and other interactions between the Councils and users as part of the implementation of the 1993 Science, Engineering and Technology White Paper.

3.46 In the absence of a humanities research council, the Funding Councils have also played an important role working with the British Academy to promote and develop the arts and humanities. We conclude: that the British Academy and the Funding Councils, alongside institutions, continue to have a central role in ensuring that there is an appropriate level of pg activity to support scholarship and to meet the needs of individuals for personal development in the arts and humanities.

3.47 This mixed mode system of determining pg supply which we propose above can only work with effective interaction between institutions and the national funding bodies. Assessing recent performance, we have confidence that interactions are successful (not least because institutions are highly sensitive to the opportunities for gaining funding); the implementation of the outcomes of the TFP will be an interesting test case. We recommend to HEFCE: that it should monitor developments in pg education in HE which emerge in response to TFP outcomes. We would hope that other funding bodies would take similar action.

Other constraints on supply

3.48 Although the decisions of providers and funders are likely to be most influential in determining the future supply of pg education, the lack of an adequate supply of appropriately qualified applicants for pg study is a potential constraint. However, the expansion of ug education, and the evidence we describe below on the likely future demand for pg study, suggest that future supply is very unlikely to be constrained by numbers of applicants. We return to the issue of the quality and standards of ug education, which will deliver applicants sufficiently prepared for pg study, in chapter 4.

V Demand

Methods of predicting demand

3.49 Consistent with the purposes which we have identified for pg education, the main determinants of demand will be the requirements of employers for those with pg qualifications, of institutions themselves as both employers of the pg qualified and as 'producers' of learning, scholarship and research, and of individuals to satisfy their employment and professional needs and for more general personal development.

3.50 Information on the destinations of those with pg qualifications is one way of gaining a picture of the employment sectors with current demand for pg qualifications. There are significant differences between the destinations of the pgr and the pgt qualified, with the former more clustered in education and in the teaching and research occupations, and the latter more generally spread throughout employer categories and types of work.

3.51 A variety of techniques can be used to judge and predict demand (Research relevant to supply an demand for pg education is summarised in the CEDAR literature surveys in the evidence volume. Examples of relevant studies (although there are many more) are: "1st Destinations of polytechnic students qualifying in 1989", Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS)' Polytecnics Statistics Working Group, and Commmittee of Directors of Polytechnics (CDP); "Employer's Demands for Postgraduate Biologists", Pole CJ & Pearson R, (1988) Institute of Manpower Studies (IMS); "Highly Qualified People: Supply & Deman', Report of an Interdepartmental Review" (March 1990), HMSO London). There are limitations with any of these, particularly in relation to the pg sector (which is still comparatively small and serves such a multiplicity of purposes), although in aggregate they may be indicative. To explore future demand with some sensitivity, we therefore established task forces both to assess the available quantitative evidence, and to consider the views of those most closely concerned. In recognition of the distinctive nature (and size) of demand from the academic and research base employers, we established one task force to address this sector, and another to consider demand from other employers: their key findings are at Annex E.

3.52 The work of the task forces, and our scrutiny of evidence, has identified gaps in supply and likely areas of demand. We have not provided in this report any detailed predictions for the future, as we judged that we could not do justice to the full range of subject areas and types of provision in the pg sector within the limited period of our inquiry. Such detail as can be gleaned from existing evidence and the caveats to this (including the conclusion that any predictions will be highly uncertain) are presented in the task force reports. We concur with the view of our Employers' Task Force that "illustrative and predictive information, such as the recent outcomes of the TFP, is useful to those shaping future pg provision, including HEFCE", and is also very valuable to institutions. However, such evidence can only inform rather than determine judgements.

Future demand

3.53 Although evidence on demand for pg education is not clear-cut, we have been influenced by the information that pg unemployment (For example: "Labour Market for Postgraduates", (1993) IMS, which noted that unemployment rates for pg students were very variable by discipline, but gave a figure overall of 4% unemployment rte of the masters qualified, and 3% for PhDs in 1991. This compares with 10% unemployment rate for the Bachelor's qualified in the same year. Also, "Science PhDs and the Labour Market" (1994), IMS, which noted less than 3% unemploment rates for science PhDs, compared with more than 10% for Bachelor's qualified science graduates.) is lower than graduate unemployment, and by the perception offered by the task forces that those with pg qualifications may progress faster in their careers in the longer term. Above all, past occupational and technological history suggests that the increasing complexity of the world of work and the economy, as well as of society more generally, is likely to require higher levels of knowledge and skills in the population. We conclude: that, in general, there is employment advantage for those gaining pg qualifications, particularly where these are of high quality. However, the advantage conferred may take many different forms according to the type of provision. Pg study and pg qualifications may be required or highly desirable for a job; may assist an individual in gaining an interview or a post (particularly for a very desirable job or a highly prized career); may contribute to personal satisfaction within a job; or may facilitate promotion or desired or necessary career change. Vocational or professional pg courses may deliver such advantages directly, whilst study in many subject areas and on many types of courses can also provide employment benefits (not least because the needs of employers and the objectives of individual employees are so diverse). Employers stress that employment advantage may not, in the main, take the form of immediate financial return.

3.54 Some suggest, looking at the example presented by the US system of mass ug education, that pg qualifications may have even greater influence in the future on the employment opportunities of the individual, and on their career path. We conclude: that demand for pg study from individuals, and for the pg qualified from employers, will continue to grow. In our view, the main reasons for higher demand in the future will be to facilitate the 'professionalisation' of the workforce, to deliver the requirements of individuals for lifelong learning, and to respond to the wish of individuals to differentiate themselves from the mass of graduates holding Bachelor's degrees. We discuss these further below.

Lifelong learning

3.55 The factors pointing towards lifelong learning are well known. In a modern economy, based increasingly on intellectual capital, greater skills and knowledge are required of the workforce. Individual employees need to start work with a larger portfolio of learning, and continually need to refresh or add to it. Critically, the individual needs a positive attitude both to learning itself, and to learning to change. The need for such an approach to learning is reinforced by the increasing challenge, and uncertainty, presented in individual jobs, and in people's careers more generally, at a time when employment conditions are increasingly diverse and organisations and occupations subject to rapid change. The growth in lifelong learning can already be discerned in current pg provision: in

1994-95, 37% of p-t pg students were in the 30-39 age range and 23% in that between 40-49.

3.56 Pg education, particularly pgt education, can assist individuals in the extension of their knowledge beyond first degree work, in conversion to new areas of knowledge and in the acquisition of new skills (including research skills in pgr study). Distinctively, pg education has - or should have - a particular emphasis on the development of the capacity for original thought and self-motivated learning. This is particularly true of pgr education which is characterised by the inclusion of a piece of self-directed investigation. A positive attitude to learning, and the ability to investigate, can be inculcated through pg study in any subject area, not just in specifically vocational areas. We conclude: that well into the next century there will be increased demand for pg education, in part as a vehicle for lifelong learning.

3.57 One of the important contextual factors to our review has been the expansion of ug education, which will lead to a higher percentage of graduates in the workforce, many of whom will perceive pg education as the vehicle to meet their later learning needs. We conclude: that satisfying their needs will make a vital contribution to developing the wealth-creating potential of the nation.

Professionalisation

3.58 A further factor influencing demand for lifelong learning is the increasing sophistication in service provision required by a developed society. This is evidenced in the increasing number of employment sectors which are professionalised in some form, and in the greater numbers working within those professionalised sectors. We note that many professional bodies are already raising their standards, with some requiring academic input beyond ug level in the formation of their members.

3.59 In the US, individuals are commonly expected to complete pg study before entry into a profession. Although pg professional entry is currently less common in the UK, we conclude: that this will be an important trend in the future. The professions will need increasingly to draw upon pg education for continuing professional development, as part of their requirement for lifelong learning. These developments should be welcomed as likely to make a significant contribution to the quality of life of the nation, as well as of individuals.

Research

3.60 Increased demand for pg education within the context of lifelong learning and in relation to the requirements of the professions is most likely to be focused upon the pgt sector. It is more difficult to judge likely future demand for pgr study and qualifications. Certainly, there is no shortage of people wishing to pursue research, many of them well qualified. On the whole, however, employers do not seem to want increased numbers, but would like to see quality at least maintained and breadth of training enhanced. Nevertheless, pgr education plays a unique part in the development of the individuals who can contribute, within the research base and in industry, to innovation and competitiveness, and who assist in the production of knowledge. It also produces those who will teach and research within HE. We discuss in chapter 5 the criteria which should be used to determine the use of HEFCE funding to support pgr students, where we strike a balance between the need to sustain quality with a wish to continue to allow some (limited) flexibility within the system.

3.61 Lifelong learning is relevant also to the academic and research professions, and in this context the personal and professional development of those working in the research base may be expressed through pg study. We welcome the recent concordat on research careers developed between the Research Councils, the Royal Society and CVCP and other bodies, which places emphasis on continuing professional development.

Quality

3.62 Finally, in our view the most important single factor determining future demand may be the quality of pg education. We have been influenced by the opinion put forcibly by employers that the quality of those entering pg study (derived largely from the quality and standards of ug education) and the quality of experience and the standard of intellectual development achieved and represented in pg qualifications is likely to influence future demand. We conclude: that further expansion of pg education to meet demand must be predicated upon the maintenance of quality and standards in provision. If the system cannot deliver greater quantity and maintain quality, then the latter must take priority.


4: Quality and standards

I Introduction

4.1 The responses to our call for evidence, and our discussions, have led us to conclude that a major issue currently facing HE is the need to assure the quality and standards of pg education.

4.2 We have considered at some length the effectiveness of systems intended to assure the quality and standards of pgt and pgr education. In recognition of the intrinsic diversity of pg provision, and of the considerable administrative workload already attributable to quality assessment, audit and assurance, we have sought first to improve transparency and information on the pg sector and then to encourage a distinctive pg perspective within existing quality-related systems. In the latter regard, we were aware that a new quality agency, bringing together quality audit and assessment, was under discussion between the Funding Councils, CVCP and SCOP.

4.3 In the context of institutional quality assurance, we have also looked at the internal structures most useful for effective delivery of pg education. However, we took a decision early in our inquiry to focus on those issues particularly relevant to national decisions and we have not explored in detail the myriad of challenges that face institutional management and academic staff in providing pg education.

II Improving information: Directory of courses

Provision of consistent public information

4.4 Given the recent expansion and growing diversity of pg education, a critical issue is to provide students and employers with better information about the range of experiences offered. With lifelong learning, it is anticipated that a wider range of students may be attracted into pg education. These students will bring a richer experience into their pg work, but they will also require more accurate information in order to enable them to choose wisely those courses which best match their learning objectives. Employers have similar requirements, particularly those from overseas who are less familiar with the UK sector. We also received evidence that better information to underpin systems of funding was required, to ensure that these are effective and fair. We return to this issue in chapter 5.

4.5 We were well aware of the high quality and standards of UK institutions, which have made UK HE an internationally marketable service. But because of this, we have taken very seriously the possibility, and certainly the perception, that there may be instances of mismatch between expectations and what is actually delivered, in respect of both the quality of provision in certain instances, and also of what exactly is to be offered and at what price. The best safeguard against any such mismatch is transparency in the description of pg provision, through information which is auditable or verifiable.

4.6 Institutions themselves produce a considerable amount of detailed information on their own courses. There are also very useful published guides (increasingly published on CD-ROM or on-line) which draw together information on courses across institutions. In addition, there are various bodies involved in quality assurance, assessment and audit, described in Annex F, which produce information relevant to the choices and decisions to be made by students, employers and funders.

4.7 Nevertheless, we believe that information currently available is not sufficient, or is not appropriately compiled, to meet the needs which we have identified. In particular, commercial directories may not be sufficiently objective or uniform to perform the required functions - and, above all, information in such directories may not be validated or audited with appropriate assurances. A particular and very important gap in existing information is that on levels of courses (the intended intellectual challenge which courses set out to present and the prior knowledge which is assumed) and associated standards (in terms of the measurement against the norm determined by the level of the course, or against the qualification title). Information on levels, in particular, will need to have the imprimatur of a public authority with the standing to speak confidently on such matters. We recommend to CVCP and SCOP: that additional public information - what we have thought of as a 'directory' of pg courses - should be produced. A critical objective of the directory should be to specify the nature of the course in ways that are appropriate to different types of courses and informative for students, employers and funders.

Typology of courses

4.8 One method of meeting the objectives we have set for the directory would be to group courses together on the basis of similar characteristics which could be useful to students and employers. In their evidence to us, the HEQC proposed a method of clustering courses according to a 'typology'. We recommend to CVCP and SCOP: that the directory of courses should be structured upon a typology of a kind which we elaborate below. In the first instance the typology would be descriptive, but the HEQC noted that such a typological approach would also assist in exposing the intellectual challenge of courses by clustering these by 'types', and hence could aid consideration of standards.

4.9 One of the important dimensions to typology that emerged from our investigations was the aim of the course. Grouping courses by aim, in particular, may help to identify the characteristics relevant to intellectual challenge for that cluster. As an example, a course such as an MBA which is focused on professional or vocational development may take subject knowledge and analytical skills, which could have been gained at ug level and/or experientially, and ask the student to apply these to an area of professional practice. This would present a challenge to the student quite different from (although certainly not less demanding than) a course which aimed to extend or deepen subject knowledge, such as an MLitt in American Literature. We recommend to CVCP and SCOP: that the typology should include classification by the 'aim of the course'. For debate, we suggest that aims could be described by such categories as: 'research and scholarship'; 'preparation for research and deepening subject knowledge'; 'conversion'; 'professional and practice-related'.

4.10 A second dimension to a typology which emerged from our discussions was the nature of study. The categorisation by research and taught is fairly well established in HE. However, the increasing inclusion of taught elements within research degrees, and innovations and variations in disciplinary and institutional practices as regards the nature of courses and methods of assessment, have made this distinction inadequate. In developing the typology, a more precise boundary between the two might be drawn, for example through setting a percentage of time that must be devoted to the thesis for research courses, and describing the method of assessment (in particular, whether an individually examined thesis is produced for a research course). We recommend to CVCP and SCOP: that the typology should include classification by the 'nature of study', and linked to this the 'method of assessment'. The nature of study could be categorised by: taught and research (with specification of proportions of research/taught elements in taught/research courses); a third category, namely, 'practice or the production of a creative piece of work' (for example, architectural design or a musical composition) would also be helpful.

4.11 In addition to the above, we recommend to CVCP and SCOP: that the 'prerequisites for entry' to a course and the 'length of course' should be included within the typology. The prerequisites might not be confined to the qualification needed for entry, but could also give an indication of experience (such as professional experience) or skills required. The length of the course may not be pertinent to all provision, and intensity of study or credit rating (which we discuss further below) may be appropriate alternatives.

4.12 As the objectives of our typology include that of specifying the degree of intellectual challenge, we recommend to CVCP and SCOP: that the typology should also include reference to ;level of study'. Currently, level is conveyed through pgt and pgr categories. However, we have judged these terms as insufficiently precise given the diversity and size of the current pg sector, and believing in particular that they are more indicative of the nature than the level of study.

4.13 A particular challenge to defining level is that the pg sector encompasses not just courses of intended higher intellectual challenge than ug courses, but also those at or partly at ug level studied later in time and personal maturity. We believe that this is quite appropriate to the range of purposes which the sector has grown up to serve, and all these are properly described as postgraduate, but more specific description is required. Evidence noted conversion courses as an area of particular confusion: such courses presented challenges similar to those of ug courses (and indeed often quite intentionally so and in response to clear market demand), but there were instances of students who had embarked upon such courses expecting much greater personal development (for instance, if they already had substantial grounding in the area through previous study or work experience).

4.14 How courses can be categorised in terms of level is a more difficult problem. Credit rating is clearly relevant but will only be fully effective once all institutions have credit-based systems (and we are not clear that all institutions will introduce these) and once there is an appropriate credit framework recognised by all institutions. (A typology of courses might in fact assist in the development of such a framework once the bulk of courses had been satisfactorily 'mapped' according to the typology.) As an alternative to credits, the typology might convey level through cross-reference to other classifications, such as the nature of study, method of assessment, prerequisites for entry and length of course. We recommend to CVCP and SCOP: that the level of study should be exposed in the typology through cross-reference to other categories, and by 'credit rating' (even if this is not used by all institutions).

4.15 One very important dimension to gaining greater transparency in terms of the level of courses is specifying the proportion of ug material used in a pg course. We gained the impression that there is particular concern about the lack of clarity in this regard. This is not to say that courses based largely on ug material may not be very valuable (such as for conversion purposes), but, obviously, such a position needs to be unambiguous to a potential student and subsequent employer. We recommend to CVCP and SCOP: that the typology should expose the proportion of ug material, or the number of credits at ug level, within a pg course. (We make more specific proposals on the treatment of ug materials in pg courses in paragraph 4.33 as part of our recommendations on the standardisation of nomenclature.) Evidence also suggested that the exposure of the reliance of courses on ug material could be an important dimension to establishing robust boundaries between types of provision for funding purposes.

Other information in the directory

4.16 Although we have above dwelt mainly on typological classifications relevant to levels and standards, the directory of courses which we recommend might also provide other information which would be useful to students and employers, such as on the quality of activities. We therefore recommend to CVCP and SCOP that: the directory should also provide information relevant to quality, such as the outcomes of teaching and research assessment exercises (RAE) in the relevant disciplines in that institution.

Consultation

4.17 We recognise that full consultation with institutions will be needed in developing the typology, and the resulting directory, and the input of students, employers and funders will also be important. Further work must also build upon the HEQC's work on standards and might possibly be taken forward by the proposed single quality agency. We believe that any directory should be composed UK-wide, and therefore other Funding Councils will also need to be involved in future development. In putting out our report to consultation, we recommend to CVCP and SCOP: that they should seek views, in particular, on the concept of a typologically arranged directory of courses, on the suggestions which we have made regarding its format, summarised in Box 1, and on the ways to take forward further work.

-----------------------------------------------------------

Box 1: Directory of postgraduate courses (model)

I. Typological information

a. Aim of course:

- research and scholarship

- preparation for research and deepening subject knowledge

- conversion

- professional and practice-related

b. Nature of study:

- taught

- research (extent of research/taught components)

- practice or the production of a creative piece of work

c. Method of assessment

d. Prerequisites for entry

e. Length of course

f. Level of study

- % ug material/credits

- (cross-reference to other categories)

g. Credit rating

II. Other information

a. Teaching assessment/RAE (RAE- Research Assessment Exercises - see Annex F) outcomes

b. Price and sources of support (Argument presented in paragraph 4.27 below)

-----------------------------------------------------------

Presentation of the typology

4.18 As we discussed above, a short cut to gaining transparency in level description, and indeed a much simpler typology, could be achieved through basing this on credits. We established a group, under the aegis of the CVCP, chaired by Professor Gordon Conway, which considered the options for a credit-based typology, and the resulting model, based upon the system developed in the US for course designations, is given with explanatory notes in Annex G.

4.19 A similar kind of model could be developed using our own domestic Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS). In this context, we were interested in the set of generic level descriptors being produced by the South East England Consortium (SEEC)(We thank the South East England Consortium (for Credit Accumulation & Transfer) and institutions in Wales who have been involved in the development of the generic level descriptors, for allowing us to quote their work) which define the M (masters) or pg level as:

"The context of learning: complex, unpredictable and normally specialised demanding innovative work which may involve exploring the current limits of knowledge.

The learner: has depth of knowledge/mastery of skills in a specialised area and/or across applied areas of discipline(s). Confidently can apply full range of appropriate knowledge/skills to create response to any situation. May need to define/expand existing knowledge or techniques. Is autonomous in a professional context and may be responsible for the guidance/motivation of others."

Monitoring

4.20 Once further developmental work is concluded on the typology, the next step will be to seek methods to ensure the accuracy of the information returned by institutions (that individual courses are described within the appropriate cluster on the typology), and to seek a vehicle for collecting information and for publication of the directory.

4.21 The typology could be regarded as establishing the reasonable level of customer expectation. Students or employers will then be able to expect a course to 'perform' against the description in the typology, for example:

"A course aimed at professional development, which is practice-based and assessed through examination and an exhibition of work, of 9 months duration, with a 120 credit rating (and 10% ug material), and which normally requires a first degree or experiential equivalent for entry."

Institutions which do not return accurately can expect to receive higher levels of customer complaint. This might encourage future accuracy just as effectively as formal sanction.

4.22 A further step to secure accurate information would be to audit how institutions have derived the information which they have provided for the typology, and the reasonableness of their assumptions in assigning a course to a 'cluster'. Such audit could also include consideration of customer feedback. As part of further work on the typology, we recommend to CVCP and SCOP: that a method for audit of the information provided, which would not be unduly burdensome to institutions, should be explored. Such work would fall to the single quality agency.

4.23 Institutions, in particular, raised with us the question of whether student data used for funding purposes can be sufficiently robust - that is, auditable - given the present lack of clarity in traditional descriptive terms. We therefore recommend to CVCP and SCOP: that HEFCE (and indeed other funding bodies) should be invited to join the sponsors of the further work on the typology.

4.24 Once the typology has been developed to the satisfaction of the sector and HEFCE, we recommend to HEFCE: that its funding should be limited to pg student numbers related to courses described accurately within the typology.

Dissemination

4.25 Respondents to our call for evidence emphasised the considerable demands that existing quality systems impose upon HE, and we have tried to find ways to improve the system without further burdens. We believe that with increasing computerisation of information it may be possible to produce the directory of courses - that is for institutions to make returns to an appropriate body, and for the directory to be made available publicly - with relatively little cost and effort. We recommend to CVCP and SCOP: that the directory of courses once developed should be compiled and disseminated electronically in the first instance. If the directory provides an accurate picture of provision in a suitable customer-friendly form, then it may have commercial value and dissemination in other formats should then be considered. The guides to graduate courses and research opportunities produced by Higher Education Business Enterprise Ltd (an agency of CVCP and SCOP) provide useful models. ("Higher Education in the UK graduate courses: the students' guide to pg courses at UK universities and HE colleges" and "Higher education in the UK research opportunities: the students' guide to research at UK universities and HE colleges").

4.26 Some evidence from overseas organisations described the UK HE sector's marketing efforts as 'amateur'. We recommend to CVCP and SCOP: that the directory should also be produced with an eye to dissemination overseas, so that it may contribute prominently to the improvement of the UK's international marketing efforts.

Overseas students

4.27 Overseas students come to the UK in substantial numbers (as we demonstrated in Chapter 3) and they also pay very substantial fees. Our evidence suggested that the full specification of charges, including bench and language fees, in advance was more important to those from overseas than cost in itself (although the latter is a factor, as is quality). We were interested in the work undertaken by the Australian government to market more effectively its pg provision overseas (not least because Australia is a major UK competitor in this area). The Australian government has invested in the production of a consolidated list of courses offered by its institutions, which gives details of costs alongside course descriptions. Modelled on the Australian listing, we recommend to CVCP and SCOP: that the directory should also include full specification of the price to be charged to any student. The directory should also, if possible, include sources of support for the student (including those provided by the institution).

III Nomenclature

4.28 The title of a course has in the past provided a useful guide to its nature and level. Pg titles have always been more diverse than ug titles, but evidence we received suggested that diversity had reached the point of being unhelpful - and indeed that nomenclature was now in a number of cases positively misleading. Most concern centred around the masters qualification, which is the most used title.

4.29 Although standardising nomenclature is a possible next step after producing a typology of courses, we recognise that it will be difficult, as nomenclature at pg level has never been uniform. Idiosyncrasies of nomenclature, which have evolved in individual institutions for historical and local reasons, have been less of a problem in the past when the pg sector was smaller and focused on fewer centres. There are difficult issues to be faced in producing a standardised system of nomenclature which is sensitive to local and regional nuance. An area of particular difficulty which we identified in discussion (and there are surely many more) is the treatment of the titles used distinctively in Scotland (such as the Scottish MA or MPhil). however, change could bring national coherence and hence clarity in an international marketplace.

4.30 We recognise that with the standardised nomenclature we move beyond description into the realm of prescription - and hence the greater sensitivity about the results and greater difficulties in 'enforcement'. For these reasons, the full involvement of the sector is needed to secure broad agreement and to generate guidelines on some standardisation of nomenclature, and this critically needs to follow on from the typology, which will build confidence in the way in which courses that might share qualification titles have been grouped together.

Model for standardised nomenclature

4.31 Although we recognise the dangers of bringing forward proposals on standardisation of nomenclature, which could never be wholly comprehensive and might very likely be insufficiently sensitive to local factors, we have nevertheless thought it important to provide a model for debate, as at Box 2 (on page 41). If something along the lines of our model were implemented, then courses would only be able to use the 'highest' qualification titles whose conditions they could meet in full.

--------------------------------------------------------------

Box 2: Standardised nomenclature for postgraduate qualifications (model)

Qualification title
Conditions
Postgraduate Certificate
This title should be used for courses of <50 credits or <9 months in length
Postgraduate Diploma
This title should be used for courses of 50-120 credits or around 9 months f-t in length
Postgraduate Diploma
This title should also be used for all courses which contain >= 30 ug credits or >= 25% ug material
Masters - subject specific titles
These titles should be used for courses of >= 120 credits or around 9 (eg MEcon) months f-t in length, (which also must contain <30 ug credits or <25% ug material)
Masters - generic titles
These titles should be used for (eg MA and Msc) courses of >= 180 credits or >= 1year f-t in length, which must also meet all the following conditions
  • the taught course work contains >90 pg credits or >75% pg material - and in total the course contains >135 pg credits
  • the proportion of time spent on a research project or dissertation(or equivalent for practice-based) is >= 25% of the course
  • the method of assessment includes examination of the project or dissertation by an examiner with responsibility for the masters programme and dissertation
MPhil
This title should be used for courses of >180 credits or 1-2 years f-t in length, which must also meet all the following conditions:
  • a substantial proportion of time (>= 50% of the course) is spent on a research project or dissertation (or equivalent for practice-based)
  • the method of assessment includes individual external examination of the project or dissertation
PhD/DPhil
This title should be reserved for a qualification awarded on the basis of an individually produced piece of research which is free-standing and makes an original contribution to the subject area. The target for completion of the degree should be 3 years for a f-t student.
Taught doctorates
Other doctorates should be distinguished by referencing the relevant subject area, such as the EdD

--------------------------------------------------------------

4.32 Ideally such a model should be based upon credits, which can provide sensitive descriptions of actual intensities of study, but in awareness that many institutions do not have credit-based systems, we have also included references to periods of f-t study (although the pg typology prepared by Professor Conway's group in Annex G does link nomenclature to a credit-based system). Again these are in the form of suggestions, and would need considerable refinement in appreciation of the full range of provision in the sector.

4.33 The model which we provide has two particularly controversial aspects. Firstly, we propose a distinction between 'generic' masters and 'subject specific' masters courses, with the generic title used only for courses which are substantially pg in make-up and contain a thesis element which is assessed by an external examiner. Secondly, we specify a maximum amount of ug material or ug credits - 25% or more than 30 ug credits - which can be included in a course which bears the masters title. (And we believe that getting the conditions for the generic masters 'right' is the important starting place for further development of proposals.)

4.34 Our proposals address some of the main areas of confusion identified in evidence, although we recognise that much greater detail would be needed in any fully comprehensive proposals for standardisation. In particular, full proposals would need to address the issue of distinguishing extended ug courses which bear subject specific masters titles from pg courses with similar designations (and indeed to provide a robust ug/pg boundary). Also proposals would need to build upon more precise characterisations of masters and diploma courses so as to be able ascribe titles sensitively (such as capturing the flavour of the vocational nature of diploma courses which are focused on the broadening of learning and experience). And more information about pg diploma and certificate courses (such as typical credit ratings, lengths of study and prerequisites for entry) would need to be acquired, so as to be able to specify a precise boundary between these, as well as to clarify the relationship with continuing education provision more generally.

4.35 Further work would also be needed on which masters titles should be used as generic and also as subject specific (for example, we were aware of the M.Soc.Psy which is actually used generically, in our sense). We were particularly aware that the PGCE, which is probably the most common title, is used exceptionally to our model, and would need to be relabelled PG Diploma.

4.36 In publishing our report, we recommend to CVCP and SCOP: that they should consult, in particular, on how to move towards a standardised nomenclature and on our preliminary proposals on this in Box 2. Further work on this should be taken forward in tandem with that on typology, and should take account of the programme of work by the HEQC on nomenclature and levels of awards which is underway.

4.37 If standardised nomenclature or something approaching it could be achieved, then data on student numbers in relation to qualification aims would probably be the most suitable for use in funding. This could provide fairly sensitive disaggregation (so that populations could be chosen appropriate to funding objectives) and could be quite easily collated (consistently with existing data gathering on HE). However, using data for funding purposes places great strain on their robustness (because definitions have to be clear, and consistently understood, by those compiling the data) and means that data have to be auditable. We recommend to CVCP and SCOP: that HEFCE (and indeed other funding bodies) should be invited to participate in any further work toward the development of standardised nomenclature. If work on nomenclature comes to successful fruition, then we recommend to HEFCE: that it should use data collected in relation to standardised nomenclature for funding purposes. As with the typology, any proposals should be developed UK wide and therefore the interest of other funding bodies should be sought in future work.

IV Assuring quality and standards

Standards

4.38 Evidence to us suggested very strongly that the HE sector is experiencing quality and standards 'fatigue' and hence we had no enthusiasm for recommending another body - or even another inquiry - to address standards. Nevertheless we were fully aware of the critical importance of the topic.

4.39 We recognise that there are imperfections in the existing systems for assuring standards which were highlighted in the evidence. Pressure on academic staff time, which militates against the fully effective operation of the external examiner system, was cited frequently, and the lack of nationally available information was also mentioned. We conclude: that greater clarity in the demonstration of the standards of pg education is required, and work in this regard needs to be taken forward urgently. The development of the typology which we propose will contribute to this, and we also welcome the work of the HEQC on graduate and pg standards and on strengthening the external examiner system at national and local levels. We commend this ongoing work both to institutions and to funding bodies.

4.40 As we noted in chapter 3, the professional bodies have only a limited role in pg education at the moment, but nevertheless they can play an important part in relation to standards. We recommend to CVCP and SCOP: that the professional bodies should be associated with any future work on a typology of courses, and with ongoing work on the maintenance of standards.

Quality of undergraduate education

4.41 Although our brief was to consider pg education, we recognised that quality and standards at ug level, which are currently the subject of considerable discussion through the work of the HEQC and the Funding Councils, are of crucial importance as the 'floor' to pg education. Areas at ug level cited to us as of particular import for pg education were the development of generic and transferable skills, and the depth and security of subject knowledge. We conclude that: it is absolutely vital to maintain the quality and standards attained in ug work in order to ensure quality, and to preserve standards, at the pg level. Our recommendations in chapter 5 in respect of protecting the funding of ug provision are intended to assist in this process.

Quality of postgraduate taught education

4.42 We highlighted earlier in our report the strengths of the pgt sector, including its greater size, diversity and differentiation compared to the pgr sector. These features also present challenges to existing quality assurance mechanisms, and we have noted a number of areas of concern. In particular, there needs to be:

a. Assurance that only appropriately qualified candidates are admitted. Systems for accrediting prior learning need to be particularly robust when there are increasing numbers of entrants to pgt study with non-standard qualifications or professional experience instead of academic qualifications.

b. Assurance that progression between qualifications is managed effectively to safeguard academic standards. This has always been a difficult area even for established transfers such as that between the masters and the PhD. However, particular challenges are posed by flexible and modular provision, whereby the student employs experience from one course to contribute to another leading to a different and higher qualification. To assure the quality of all provision, similar and effective procedures, such as scrutiny of entry standards to ensure they are appropriate for the 'aim' of the course as defined in (paragraph 4.9), need to be established for every course, and criteria for transfers, including between institutions, need to be transparent and robust.

c. Assurance to safeguard the quality of student experience, through processes for the establishment, review and validation of courses. Evidence to us noted, for example, the need for similar procedures and standards to be employed for certificate work (which has often been conducted in continuing education departments) as for other provision.

d. Assurance as to the methods used for the assessment of students. Innovations in assessment methods are being introduced among more general innovations, in order to cope with the increasing diversity of students, routes and needs. Assessment methods across all provision must be appropriate to the nature of the courses concerned and must provide a proper reflection of the achievement attained.

4.43 We draw specific conclusions on institutional structures best suited to provide appropriate assurance mechanisms within institutions in paragraphs 4.53-4.55. In terms of national monitoring, some argued to us that a distinctive quality body was needed for the pg sector. We believe this would be unduly bureaucratic and appropriate action for the pg sector can be taken forward by the new single quality agency. We recommend to HEFCE, CVCP and SCOP: that the single quality agency, once established, should be asked to give proper emphasis in its work to the distinctive nature of the pg sector, in those institutions or departments where this is relevant; should ensure appropriate approaches to assessment of quality at the pg level (including verifying typological descriptions and directory entries, as we have recommended in due course); and should satisfy itself, as a priority activity, that all pg provision is of satisfactory quality.

4.44 As a move towards this, we recommend to HEFCE: that immediately, as the norm, quality assessment reports should be provided separately for pg and ug provision (and we would hope that other funding bodies would follow suit).

4.45 Evidence from both overseas and domestic bodies raised a number of detailed points about the quality of the experience and of the service offered by institutions for pgt provision, such as the commitment of staff time and staff:student ratios, and the provision of a reasonable infrastructure for learning (libraries were cited as a particular concern). Again, many of these will be localised instances, and may involve perceptions rather than realities. We considered whether we should propose the establishment of norms to address some of these views, but we conclude: that it would be impracticable and inappropriate to establish norms for delivery of taught provision, because courses can be delivered effectively in many ways and may or may not suit individual students, depending on their objectives and needs. Information from our typology should assist students to make good choices in the first place on the type of courses that will suit them. Outcomes of teaching quality assessment will also be valuable to inform such choices, particularly if our recommendation in paragraph 4.44 is accepted.

4.46 An argument was put to us that the ultimate test of the usefulness and quality of pgt provision which is market-led is the demand for the course and for the 'product' of the course - the qualified person. This, however, can only be true if the student and any subsequent employer is fully informed of the content, quality and standard of any qualification offered, and has adequate redress, if necessary. Hence the priority we have placed in our work on improving transparency and information.

Quality of postgraduate research education

4.47 Criticisms of the quality of pgr provision were significantly fewer than of taught provision. In part, this is a tribute to the rigour of procedures already laid down in institutions in the former UFC and former PCFC sectors through work such as the Reynolds codes of practice, and the activities of the Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA), the Research Councils and the British Academy (which has just established a new working group to consider supervision and the research environment), and more recently through the contributions of the UKCGE and the NPC. We note also the very important body of work being conducted by the HEQC to develop guidelines on quality assurance of postgraduate research degrees (which are to be published later in the year) and which is likely to be influential upon any further activity in this area.

4.48 Issues that were raised in evidence related to the relevant infrastructure (notably equipment and libraries) and the arrangements made for the supervision of pgr students, including the availability of those active in research to supervise, and on the peer community. More generally, there were concerns that pgr activity might be distributed too widely, and there were arguments in evidence that pgr activity should be concentrated in 'centres of excellence' and particularly that there should be strong linkages between effective pgr activity and quality in research activity in the institution more generally, as well as a reasonable research infrastructure. These views were bound up with concerns about the most effective use of HEFCE's limited resources for pgr and research activity, which we discuss further in chapter 5.

4.49 We conclude: that institutions should continue to be able to provide pgr education, and award research degrees if they have the appropriate authority of the Secretary of State. Nevertheless, we believe that pgr students should only be admitted where rigourous procedures are laid down, and observed, and where the key elements to ensure quality of provision are provided. Unless this is assured, there is a risk to the reputation of the sector as a whole, particularly in overseas eyes. We recommend to CVCP and SCOP: that they should take forward the development of a code of practice for pgr education, which should address the issues which we have raised in Box 3:

--------------------------------------------------------------

Box 3: Code of practice for pgr education: issues to be addressed

a. Quality in research, providing the general environment for pgr study (evidenced, for example, by a ranking of 3 or above in an RAE or by a significant record of obtaining research grants and contracts)

b. Suitable supervisory arrangements, including:

- supervision by someone who is research-active (in terms of meeting the criteria for submission to an RAE), has experience in the topic of research and has the time to supervise

- pre-specified, appropriate back-up supervisory arrangements (in case these become necessary for whatever reason)

- training for supervisors

c. Infrastructure and environment: pgr study only to be offered in areas where the institution has:

- the appropriate research environment (such as having other researchers with whom to interact)

- the associated infrastructure (including relevant equipment, learning resources and other infrastructure) in relevant subject areas

- social and working environments conducive to pgr study

d. Regular monitoring and assessment of progress

e. Relevant and necessary facilities to be available for the whole calendar year (this is especially important for p-t students, who may be in employment)

--------------------------------------------------------------

4.50 Once such a code has been fully developed (and we believe that this could be done fairly rapidly as there is already a considerable body of relevant work to draw upon), we recommend to CVCP and SCOP: that individual institutions should be asked to subscribe to the code and the new single quality agency should be asked to monitor and audit institutional commitments.

4.51 We further recommend to CVCP and SCOP: that they should ensure the involvement of other relevant bodies, notably the Research Councils, the British Academy and the HEQC, in the development of the code and of monitoring arrangements (particularly to ensure that there is no duplication of efforts, and hence no additional burden on the sector).

4.52 We further recommend to HEFCE: that it should take account in due course of the operation of the code in distributing its funding for pgr education, and we return to this theme in chapter 5.

Institutional structures

4.53 In the past, it was common for institutions to handle all aspects of pg education and training through a single body such as a Higher Degrees Committee (or its equivalent). The result has been to consider pg education in relative isolation from other activities. With the expansion of pg student numbers, many institutions have made pg work central to their mission. As a result, different kinds of organisations have been developed to deal with graduate matters: for example, graduate schools to focus on the needs of graduate students; and research schools that attempt to strengthen links between graduate students and research work. (Some institutions seek to combine these two models.)

4.54 The most common form of specialised pg structure is the graduate school. A survey by the UKCGE conducted in March 1995 found that 33 universities and one college had established a graduate school and 23 others were considering one. These may take many forms, and may be institution, faculty or department wide, or may just cover a single programme. However, evidence presented to us from institutions noted that graduate schools were not the only method for ensuring appropriate attention to pg education. For some, the department remains the most important focus for pg education (although this can also be compatible with the existence of departmental-level graduate schools) because of disciplinary links; whereas others argued for promotion of cross-disciplinary or interdisciplinary structures for pg education. Others noted the importance of maintaining coherence in provision from ug to pg study, and hence did not favour graduate schools in any form. The importance of addressing the needs of non-traditional students was also noted as of great importance in determining structures.

4.55 We conclude that: each institution, where relevant to its mission, should consider, and keep under review, its organisational structure to ensure that this is the most appropriate to facilitate the work of pg students, should monitor and manage graduate studies and should develop graduate recruitment and teaching policies, consonant with its research, teaching and learning objectives.

Student representation

4.56 An important aspect of providing pg-focused structures within institutions is to ensure adequate pg student representation. Evidence from the NPC suggested that few institutions perform completely satisfactorily in this respect. Some ways of achieving stronger pg student representation are: better representative structures and an active Postgraduate Students' Association (PSA), which can create a more cohesive body of students from which to find volunteers to fill positions; sabbatical posts in PSAs; and the encouragement of pg students to fill positions by providing better training and support for representatives, and by including pgt students on committees. The NPC notes that Students' Unions could also play a significant role in improving this situation, but again these need to have a greater pg dimension. Such developments can create a stronger pg community, with social benefits which can help the problems of isolation experienced by many pg students who are in the minority in the student population in most institutions.

4.57 We conclude: that institutions should ensure proper involvement of pg students in student representation. Institutions should also pay particular regard to mechanisms for pg student feedback in their quality assurance systems.


5: Funding of postgraduate education

I Introduction

5.1 We were asked to draw conclusions and make recommendations about HEFCE's future funding arrangements for pg students. We have not looked at pg education in isolation, but have attempted to encompass its relationship with the other principal activities in institutions, notably ug education and research, and the overall policy and funding framework. In recognition of the current pressure on resource in HE, we have thought broadly about the priorities for the use of public funds between different activities in the short term, as well as about the fundamental rationales for public funding of pg education in the longer term.

5.2 We have examined principally, as was our remit, the grant made to institutions by HEFCE in respect of pgr and pgt student numbers, through both its research and its teaching models. We have also considered the contribution provided by the other major public funders of pg education - the Research Councils and the British Academy - and from other providers of fees, including students and employers.

5.3 Our conclusions on funding draw also on those which we have developed in chapter 3 on the likely future need for pg education, and notably those in chapter 4: a primary part of our work on funding has been to seek to safeguard pg quality and standards. We have also necessarily had regard to the need to provide some funding in order to ensure innovation in pg education, as part of a dynamic structure essential to the future health of the sector.

II The use of public funds

Priorities for public funds

5.4 We have been convinced as a result of our inquiry of the significant contribution made by pg education to the nation, both to the economy and to society more generally. We recognise that there is already a very significant private contribution to pg education through the payment of fees, particularly in the case of pgt education which serves vocational objectives, and we believe that this is appropriate given the purposes of pg education, and the private benefits it affords. However, we are also convinced of the importance of the public benefits of pg education, and therefore of the compelling rationale for public funding. We conclude: that public funds should continue to contribute substantially to the support of pg education, and we commend: this recommendation to the Dearing Committee of Inquiry.

5.5 As confirmed in the 1993 Science, Engineering and Technology White Paper, there are strong arguments for the public funding of basic research because of market failure: companies would underinvest in this activity, if the funding responsibility fell to them, as they cannot be sure to appropriate the more general benefits that flow from basic research. This argument is also relevant to the support of pgr education. Although there may be some private support through industrial sponsorship of science, engineering and technology students, in the main pgr students will be publicly funded through studentships from the Research Councils and the British Academy and provision of student support by institutions. We conclude: that public funds should, in particular, continue to support pgr education, as part of the public investment in the academic and research base, and we commend: this recommendation to the Dearing Committee of Inquiry.

Current constraints

5.6 Our remit was to make recommendations for pg education to meet future needs, and it has been our aim to produce a report which will provide a vision for pg education into the next century. However, in addressing recommendations to HEFCE on its funding of pg education, we have had to have regard to the very immediate financial problems that face HE, as well as the challenges to quality and standards across all activities, ug and pgt education, and pgr education and research.

5.7 In recent years, HEFCE, in line with government policy, has pursued an explicit policy for ug provision. Ug numbers have risen gradually over the last few decades, but in the period since its inception, HEFCE provided financial encouragement to institutions to expand provision significantly, in order to reach targets for participation in HE in the 1992 White Paper "Higher Education: Meeting the Challenge". This expansion has been part of a thrust to improve the qualification and skill levels of the country more generally.

5.8 Since 1993, following a revised government policy of consolidation, HEFCE has introduced financial measures to curb further growth in ug numbers (partly through use of ceilings on ug numbers - MASNs). This change was precipitated by concerns over the burden on public spending from ug expansion which was predominantly publicly funded, and because the targets set in the 1992 White Paper were being approached more rapidly than had been anticipated.

5.9 Over this same period there has been a considerable increase in pg numbers, as we showed in chapter 3. There are many important benefits from pg students that may encourage institutions to expand pg numbers, including fee revenue. Additionally, the period of ug expansion may have encouraged some institutions to plan for budget growth, premised on the assumption of increased activity. With ug numbers then curbed, pg activity may have been seen as a very important alternative option to maintain or even increase revenue, albeit without drawing any additional public funds into the sector.

5.10 The pressure on resources in HE, and on institutional management from changes in policy, has been considerable. From 1989-90 to 1994-95, according to HEFCE calculations, the number of home and EC full-time equivalent students(DATA from USR/PCC/HESES) in HEFCE-funded institutions increased by 64%, while total government funding (grants plus fees) increased by 43% in cash terms and 13% in real terms. And the funding allocated by HEFCE for research has hardly increased in real terms since 1992-93, and there will be no increase even in cash terms between 1995-96 and 1996-97.

5.11 It was announced in the 1996 public expenditure settlement that the total public funds for HE (HEFCE grant only plus fees) would fall by 7% in real terms in 1996-97. Capital and equipment funding have been particularly affected, with a reduction of over 30%. Also this year, the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, the Rt Hon Gillian Shephard, has established a Committee of Inquiry, under the chairmanship of Sir Ron Dearing, to consider the shape, size, structure and funding of HE, to meet the needs of the UK over the next 20 years.

5.12 It was not our remit to investigate ug education, but we could not look at pg education in isolation from ug, both because HEFCE provides a block grant which underpins all the activities in HE, and because the delivery of high quality pg education is contingent upon ug education of an adequate quantity (as pg education requires a supply of appropriately prepared people) and quality (as the level of intellectual achievement and of subject knowledge that can be attained at pg level depends largely upon performance at Bachelor's level). In the context of the financial pressures in HE which we identify above, we conclude: if we are to sustain high quality in pg education, it is imperative that public funds underpin delivery of a robust and effective system of ug education, educating adequate ug numbers at an appropriate quality. We commend: this recommendation to the Dearing Committee of Inquiry.

5.13 The recommendations we make to HEFCE that follow are to enable them to make the most effective use of their funds in the light of the analysis of the short term pressures and the priorities we identify above. For the longer term, we commend to the Dearing Committee of Inquiry: that it should take account of the considerable public benefits from pg education, which we have identified in this report, in making its recommendations for the future funding of HE.

III HEFCE teaching funding

5.14 HEFCE provides a block grant to institutions to support their recurrent and capital costs: institutions are free to use their HEFCE grant in the ways they regard as most effective. Hence HEFCE resources devoted by individual institutions to their principal activities of ug and pg education and research will differ. For 1995-96, we estimate that around £360 million was allocated on the basis of pg numbers through the main HEFCE teaching and research grants. It is not possible to assess the actual spend by institutions on supporting provision for pg students.

5.15 Pgt students are funded only through the HEFCE teaching model, while pgr students are funded through both the teaching and the research models: in this section we comment on the HEFCE teaching model, and in section IV on the main HEFCE research model, in particular that part distributed by virtue of quality judgements and associated volume drivers (Quality-related Research, QR).

5.16 Those funds derived from those parts of the teaching and research models which directly reference pg students have been most relevant to our inquiry, but other streams of funding will also be used by institutions in their delivery of pg education. An outline of the principal HEFCE funding methods are given in Annex H.

Policies for undergraduate and postgraduate education

5.17 HEFCE has not had an explicit policy for pg education and, in particular, has had no view on the total number of pg students that should be supported from HEFCE funds. Indeed, as we highlighted earlier in the report, no national targets for pg education have ever been set, in the main because of the difficulties we have cited of planning nationally (although the Robbins report recommended growth at pg level within the context of HE expansion more generally).

5.18 Within its teaching model HEFCE has protected through employing a separate funding cell(The use of funding cells in the teaching model is explained in Annex H) a minimum number of pgr students. It has not circumscribed pgt students, but in its funding has regarded ug and pgt students as a single category. As a result, institutions have been free to substitute pgt for ug numbers, and indeed the reverse (as long as they remain within their MASN).

5.19 We have concluded previously that the shape of pg education should be largely determined by the decisions of individual institutions. And indeed the overall mix of activity which any institution undertakes is a matter for it to determine, in the light of its resources and the nature of the funds which it attracts, and its mission and objectives. Nevertheless, we believe that HEFCE should take account of the aggregate decisions of all institutions, in determining the best use of its funds. We do not believe that this necessitates a manpower planning model, which we have rejected in chapter 3, but rather that HEFCE needs to have regard for the overall balance and weight of activity. This is particularly necessary when HEFCE is pursuing an explicit policy for one sector, as in recent years for ug education. We therefore recommend to HEFCE: that it should have an explicit policy for pg education. As part of this, it should take account of the balance of pg and ug activity in the sector in determining the use of its funds, as well as taking a view on the amount of funds which it will allocate in respect of ug and pg student numbers, and the funds to be provided in respect of pgr student numbers in both teaching and research model. The latter two dimensions to HEFCE policy we discuss further in the paragraphs that follow.

5.20 It would be easier to take a view on pg education if ug and pgt students were treated separately in HEFCE methods. We recommend to HEFCE: that it should operate separate ug and pgt funding cells, as it already does for pgr.

Protecting quality in ug education

5.21 In chapter 4, we noted that the maintenance of quality and standards for ug provision is an increasing challenge for HE, particularly in the financial climate described above. Although there is a strong link between the provision of research funds by HEFCE and the quality of research activity as judged in RAEs there is very little connection between HEFCE teaching assessments and teaching funding. Respondents to our call for evidence suggested that this was unhelpful in terms of encouraging the quality of teaching activity.

5.22 We have not provided within this report a detailed description of the HEFCE teaching model (although an outline of this is given in Annex H). However, an important feature of the model, relevant to our analysis here, is the use of efficiency savings in calculating the allocations of funds to individual institutions. HEFCE provides funds in relation to the relative efficiency of institutions: institutions which deliver greater student numbers in return for their grant will benefit in terms of a lower efficiency saving in the following year. Although the addition to any institution's budget from such increases may be very small, such a margin could be critical in the light of the plans and needs of any institution in any year. Since the amount of money that HEFCE provides is fixed, then the decisions of one institution will impact on the resources of all others. The upshot of this has been that the plans of one institution to increase significantly its pg activity may have adversely affected provision made by another for its ug students (because ug and pgt occupy the same funding cell).

5.23 There is no simple link between the level of funding that is provided and the quality of provision, and we would not wish to suggest that an activity cannot be the subject of efficiency savings and still be delivered effectively. But in the light of current pressures, and our conclusion previously that the quality of ug education needs to be safeguarded partly in order to maintain pg quality, we believe that HEFCE needs to make a clear demarcation between the incentives that it provides for ug education and for pg education. We recommend to HEFCE: that it should identify the ug and pgt student numbers in respect of which it provides funds, and that increases in pgt numbers should not be allowed to affect the resource provided to any institution in respect of ug numbers. This can be implemented in part through the separation of funding cells which we recommended above.

Maintaining quality in postgraduate taught education

5.24 We believe that maintaining the quality and standards of pg education is critical to delivering the kinds of benefits, both public and private, that it is expected to provide. As an example, employers emphasised to us that the added value which they wanted from people with pg qualifications was only delivered when the student had been educated with greater opportunity of access to an HE teacher than, say, at the ug level. Such intensive tuition, and also the opportunities for project or thesis work at the pg level, are likely to inculcate the skills and ability for self-directed thought and creativity in learning which may be valuable in the context of lifelong learning. However, even though we have concluded in chapter 4 that it would be impossible to set any specific norms for pgt education, these demands from employers have clear implications for the amount of pg activity that can be delivered from a quantum of resource.

5.25 As well as separating ug and pgt students within its teaching funding model, we believe that HEFCE needs to consider carefully what incentives, if any, it should provide for further expansion of pg education. The first objective for HEFCE should be to safeguard the quality and standards of the existing level of pgt provision. We recommend to HEFCE: that it should provide no additional funds to institutions from its existing resources in relation to the further expansion of pgt numbers (subject to the recommendation we make in section VI below on using some funds to ensure a dynamic structure for pg education). This will mean that the CSNs that an institution needs to deliver in return for its grant will be agreed from time to time. There will also need to be some restriction on the current freedoms that HEFCE allows institutions to substitute or vire student numbers from one funding cell to another.

5.26 Our recommendation does not, however, preclude further growth in numbers where an institution so wishes, as we show in section V, as long as quality and standards are maintained. Such growth may be predicated on efficiency savings from HEFCE grant (which institutions will still be able to use as they wish across all their provision) or from additional fee contributions, or any combination of the two, or in any other way.

Postgraduate research students

5.27 Pgr students are already funded separately from pgt and ug students in the teaching model. Some of our respondents argued that pgt and pgr students should be funded together (and some more radically that both should be funded also in the research model) because of the imprecision in the pgt/pgr boundary.

5.28 The experience of recent years appears to us to suggest, however, that greater discrimination in funding components is likely to be more effective to achieve a healthy and balanced portfolio funded by HEFCE. (and to this end we have recommended a separation of the ug and pgt funding cells in paragraph 5.20.) We believe that the pressures on quality and standards for pgr education are equally as great as those on pgt. Therefore, we recommend to HEFCE: that it should continue to identify separately the pgr student numbers in respect of which it provides funds. In addition, it should provide no further teaching funds to institutions through its teaching model in relation to expansion in pgr numbers.

5.29 We believe that the issue of the lack of precision in funding boundaries needs to be tackled head on. We discuss in paragraphs 5.42-5.43 the recent action that HEFCE has taken to tighten the definition of pgr students used in its research funding model, but if ug, pgt and pgr students are to be treated separately in HEFCE funding, then all definitions of students populations will need to be precise. For this reason, we have recommended in chapter 4 that HEFCE funding should in due course only be provided in relation to provision returned accurately within the typology of courses which we propose, and possibly in the longer run in line with the standardised nomenclature.

Separate identification of funds

5.30 We believe that HEFCE will also need to identify separately the funds provided in its teaching model in relation to different activities (ug, pgt and pgr students) to ensure that it is using funds consistently with the priorities which we have identified. Setting the appropriate amounts to be provided for ug and pg education is a difficult issue given the pressures we have identified on all types of provision. The method which seems to us most likely to be effective, both in terms of providing the 'right' amount of funds for different activities, and in terms of minimising perturbations to funding and hence pressures on institutional management, is to set these on the basis of the information provided by institutions on their distribution of HEFCE grant across funding cells (the HEFCE redistribution survey). We recommend to HEFCE: that it should separate the funds identified in relation to pgt and pgr student numbers, and in relation to ug student numbers, within its teaching funding model, upon the basis of the most recent (1995-96) redistribution survey.

5.31 We recognise that this historical basis for separating funds in the teaching model in respect of different activities will be unsatisfactory in the long run. Any future distribution will need to take account of the amount of funds made available to HEFCE, future policy on ug numbers, and funding sources, as well as an appreciation of the quality and standards of provision that are being delivered. The immediate priority must be the protection of ug education as the base for pg education, but the Dearing Inquiry will, it is hoped, bring change into the activities and funding of HE, which may be relevant to future decisions on the disposition of funds. We recommend to HEFCE: that it should revisit periodically the proportions of its funds distributed in respect of ug, pgt and pgr student numbers, and, in particular, should do so when the Dearing Report has been submitted.

5.32 Nevertheless, in the short term, there could be a danger that the constraints we recommend could inhibit change in the system, which could lead to less, rather than more, effective use of HEFCE funds. We return to this in section VI.

Units of funding for individual institutions

5.33 HEFCE does not fund according to a unit price, but in relation to units determined by each individual institution (Average Units of Council Funds (AUCFs)). AUCFs differ between institutions, in part because of historic decisions by institutions on the students admitted. By rewarding the relative efficiency of institutions in funding, HEFCE puts some pressure on the AUCFs of different institutions to converge. A consequence of setting pg numbers in the teaching model might be that AUCFs in relation to pg students would be frozen, and we believe this would not be sensible given that AUCFs in other funding cells will converge. We recommend to HEFCE: that it should ensure that there continues to be appropriate convergence in the different rates for funding for different institutions, within the HEFCE teaching model, in respect of pg students.

Funding of part-time provision

5.34 Some suggested in evidence to us that a fully credit based system of funding should be introduced by HEFCE, so that funding could be very much more sensitive to the actual diversity in intensities of study than can be conveyed by f-t and p-t categories. However, as we noted in chapter 4, many institutions have not adopted and may never adopt credits to describe courses. The HEFCE has recently introduced a new system for funding p-t based on information on intensities of study. We conclude: that the method being introduced by HEFCE for funding p-t provision is a valuable compromise prior to any possible introduction of a fully credit-based system.

IV HEFCE research funding

5.35 Pgr students as well as being funded through HEFCE teaching grant are also one of the components which determine HEFCE research grant, in recognition of the fact that they contribute to the volume of research. Given the limits to HEFCE funding for research identified previously in this chapter, we believe that HEFCE does need to promote the most effective use of its funds to deliver pgr provision, as part of its more general policy on pg education.

5.36 There is a strong argument that pgr education is likely to be delivered most effectively in the context of a critical mass of research activity. Although this may be true in some disciplines, notably in the experimental sciences which rely more heavily on physical infrastructure, it is not necessarily the case in others - and there are always examples of very fine pgr education provided by a lone researcher. Nevertheless the life of a solitary research student within a particular field can be a very isolated experience.

5.37 In their evidence, many respondents argued that pgr activity can be delivered most effectively where there is already research quality. We believe that this is a persuasive argument, particularly when there are limited funds and no dearth of supply of those who would provide pgr education. As a result, we recommend to HEFCE: that it should limit its provision of funds in its research model in respect of pgr students to departments or comparable units which have achieved a rating of grade 3 or above in the most recent RAE, or which demonstrate the capacity to obtain significant research grants. In making this recommendation, we are conscious of pressures across the research community to be even more selective in the name of sustaining excellence and investing limited resources most effectively.

5.38 We consider that the recommendation above should not inhibit the high quality small department, or an appropriate department in an institution otherwise not strong in research, from undertaking pgr activity. This is subject to the institution having taken the proper steps towards nurturing research and pgr activity in the department(s) in question - and particularly having used research funds selectively, as well as having committed to the code of practice outlined in Box 3 to chapter 4. This is because we believe that quality in research may be a necessary but not sufficient condition for excellence in research education. We therefore recommend to HEFCE: that it should in due course provide its funding in respect of pgr students only to institutions which have committed themselves to observing the code of practice for pgr education which we have proposed. We also commend to the Dearing Committee of Inquiry our conclusion: that funding for pgr activity should be distributed to institutions in cognisance of the quality of research and pgr education that can be provided.

5.39 There will need to be a 'safety net' to our proposals to ensure that this system of funding does not exclude the exceptionally gifted supervisor, who might for example not have been present at the time of a prior RAE, and that there is adequate regional provision of opportunities for pgr study, especially p-t study. We conclude: that it will be important for individual institutions, which do not currently meet the conditions for HEFCE research funding in respect of pgr students which we have recommended but which wish to do so, to develop co-supervision and regional co-operative arrangements, to ensure access for those seeking pgr study, particularly on a p-t basis, in their region, and in order that talented supervisors are used effectively.

5.40 Given the need, we believe, to maximise the effectiveness of the use of limited HEFCE funds, we did consider the option of providing funds in relation to pgr students only through the HEFCE research model, and not at all through the teaching model. This would lead to a yet more selective distribution of funds and, given that there is very much less opportunity to attract private contributions for pgr activity, could lead to very restricted access to pgr study and to very little opportunity for new pgr provision. We recommend to HEFCE: that it should continue to provide a 'floor' (within an institution's total pg funding as recommended by us) for pgr activity through the teaching model, which should not be restricted by the conditions for research funding which we have proposed, but will be capped in line with our recommendation in paragraph 5.28 and should be subject to our recommendation on adherence to the code of practice.

5.41 HEFCE will need to have regard to the incentives it is providing through the teaching and research models for any expansion of pgr activity, particularly in the light of the availability of funds. We recommend to HEFCE: that it should revisit periodically the funds that it provides through the research model, and as part of the floor provision in the teaching model.

Data definitions

5.42 The most important demarcation for funding purposes has been between pgr students and the rest of the student population, because of the former's inclusion in both HEFCE funding models. In 1995, HEFCE conducted an audit of pgr student numbers, returned as part of the volume measures for research funding, and has since provided a much more precise definition for future research surveys in order to ensure that the returns of data capture those who do contribute to the volume of research. These new regulations are welcome. We recommend to HEFCE: that it should make every effort to ensure that definitions of pgr students are precise (that returns genuinely relate to indicators relevant to the volume of research), and that institutions are given appropriate guidance so that their returns are on a comparable basis, when collecting information on pgr students for its research funding model.

5.43 Our recommendations will mean that pgr will need to continue as one of the volume measures for the distribution of QR. We believe this is appropriate and we welcome, in addition to the new definition of pgr, this year's pattern of funding (described in Annex H). The concentration of funds in relation to years two and three of pgr study is appropriate since these are likely to be the years of greatest contribution to research volume, and the boundary provided by the new definition is appropriately verifiable. (Clearly the 1.75 multiplier currently used is an historical artefact: the available sum needs to be assigned equally to years two and three, and to no other years of pgr study.)

V Fees

5.44 Although we have recommended above that HEFCE should provide no additional funds in relation to further expansion of pgt numbers, institutions will be able to provide further pgt places if affordable and appropriate to their mission. Moreover, as HEFCE provides a block grant, it will be for individual institutions to decide upon the appropriate deployment of HEFCE grant they receive for the places which they provide. We conclude: that it must be for individual institutions to decide upon the actual levels of pg activity which they will undertake, since only they can judge what fees the courses they provide can bear in the marketplace, what further efficiency gains (if any) they feel able to achieve in respect of this aspect of their total activity and what other benefits a given course or student might bring to their institution. This is subject to institutions being sure that they can meet appropriate thresholds for quality and standards.

Setting fee levels

5.45 In addition to the grant from HEFCE, institutions also receive fees in respect of pg students, which may be paid by the individual student or by another body (such as an employer or charity). The fees which are paid from public funds, by the Research Councils and the British Academy, are usually at a publicly recommended rate (but these are relevant only to a minority of students). However, institutions are free to charge most students such fees as they wish. Overseas students are meant to pay full cost fees (and for this reason, no HEFCE teaching grant is provided in their respect).

5.46 If our recommendation on the restraints on pgt numbers reflected in the HEFCE teaching model is adopted, then further expansion will need to be supported largely from private contributions (although efficiency savings might also be made to provide for more places, particularly for pgt students). We conclude: that institutions will need to consider setting fees for pgt students at a higher level which will enable them to go further towards recouping the full cost of courses. Fee policies will need to include consideration of costs (particularly discrete programme costs for establishing and running individual courses) and what the market will bear, including the rationales for pricing.

5.47 To get a feel for the current state of competitive pricing in the sector, we did our own rough and ready calculations, drawing on national financial data, on the level of fees charged by institutions. According to our calculations, home and EC fees for f-t students appear to work out to an average of £2,370 per annum per student, for 1994-95, compared with the Research Council rate of £2,350 for that year. We have not been able to find information on the different fee rates charged by individual institutions, and hence the range of rates that lie behind our aggregate figure. We also drew upon data from the CVCP Survey of Overseas Students' Tuition Fees 1995-96 to look at the levels of fees charged to overseas students. For pgt students, the average per annum fee for classroom subjects was £6,242, and £7,320 for laboratory students; for pgr students, the figures were £6,031 and £7,382. However, these figures conceal wide variations: a range of £4,700-£11,860 for pgt classroom subjects, and £5,000-£12,900 for laboratory subjects; a range of £3,300-£11,000 and £4,300-£15,500 for pgr students; and a range of £5,000-£13,500 for MBAs.

EC students

5.48 One matter that institutions need to take into account in pricing their pg provision is the competitiveness of their fees in the EC market for HE. All EC students must be treated on a par with home students in any EC country. However, funding systems for pg students, including levels of fees charged, are very different in different EC countries, which means that, potentially, there may be a trend for EC students to migrate to countries with low student contributions and high public support - as well as, of course, to countries with high quality provision, good value for money and language advantage.

5.49 Our evidence suggests that the UK is a heavy net importer of pg students or, looked at in another way, a heavy exporter of pg education. The UK receives over four times more non-UK EC students than it sends UK students to study in other EC countries. If fees cover costs, then this is a very good trade position to be in. We conclude: that institutions should take account of the EC market for HE in setting fee levels. If fees are then raised in this regard, institutions might wish to provide support - in the form of bursaries or mitigation of fees - for very high quality students who apply.

Private contributions

5.50 Ug fees are primarily funded from public funds (for home and EC students), but there is already a significant private investment in pg education. Only a limited number of publicly funded pg studentships, for fees and maintenance, are provided on a competitive basis (by Research Councils and the British Academy). In 1994-95, around 53%, or 138,000, of all pg students in HEFCE-funded institutions had their fees paid from private sources - sometimes by employers, or by home and overseas industries, but predominantly by themselves. The equivalent figures for home and EC students, who are eligible for publicly funded studentships, was 49% or 102,700, 37% of whom were self-sponsoring. Self-sponsorship is particularly significant in the pgt and p-t pg sectors.

5.51 It is difficult to get accurate information on the current size of the private contribution to pg education. We estimate that the fee income in 1994-95 deriving from home and EC f-t pg students was £150 million; and if the private domestic contribution is in proportion to student numbers, then this would imply private fee income of around £75 million. There will also be considerable private income in respect of overseas and p-t students, which we have not been able to estimate. Apart from fee income, there may also be private contributions to other support costs, such as bench fees and equipment.

5.52 As an upshot of our view above that fee levels for pgt education may need to rise in the future, we conclude: that further personal contributions, supported where possible, are inevitable in the case of pgt students. Although many giving evidence to us recognised the need for private contributions to pg education, there were inevitably concerns that higher fees could restrict demand, particularly from students with more limited personal or family resources.

5.53 Employers are likely to invest in fairly specific areas, clearly identified with their needs, and are most likely to support individual modules or flexible forms of provision, including in-house training which can be pursued while in employment. Nevertheless, they responded in evidence that were these conditions met, then there might be greater employer interest. It also seems likely that professional bodies and individuals may seek pg education increasingly for professional and vocational purposes, and we note that there is already very considerable personal investment in this area.

5.54 Many institutions were concerned that raising fees could lead to them turning away high quality candidates, or narrowing the access to their provision and hence not meeting local responsibilities. We have endorsed the provision of support to pg students by institutions in chapter 3, and we believe that institutions should be able to use these methods, such as providing bursaries or mitigating fees, to ensure that very high quality candidates, including the relatively small number of pgt students supported by the Research Councils and the British Academy, can be admitted.

Sources of student support

5.55 Although there are many privately-funded students, there is a paucity of sources of support for such students: career development loans are available only for a limited range of vocational pg courses, and pg students (except PGCEs) are not eligible for ug student loans schemes. This is particularly true for p-t students, as there are only very rarely publicly-funded awards, or loan schemes, for p-t study, even though such flexible pg provision can make a very significant contribution, for example to lifelong learning.

5.56 The issues relating to the provision of sources of support for pg students, and indeed for p-t students in general, go beyond the scope of our inquiry which has been focused on HEFCE funding. We have also not considered the maintenance support of pg students (although publicly funded support for maintenance is provided by the Research Councils and the British Academy in respect of their studentships). Nevertheless, further work in this area is critical to ensure the kind of healthy growth of pg education which could meet future demand. We commend to the Dearing Committee of Inquiry: that it should take into account the potential needs of pg students, particularly pgt and p-t students, in reviewing future student support arrangements in HE.

Postgraduate research students

5.57 The above analysis applies particularly to pgt students as a consequence of our recommendation on setting pg numbers for the purposes of HEFCE funding. Although pgr students will be treated similarly in the teaching funding model, additional pgr numbers will continue to be reflected in the HEFCE research model. We believe this is appropriate given our conclusion in paragraph 5.5 that pgr students will need to be supported primarily by public funds.

VI Funding a dynamic system

Postgraduate taught education

5.58 The capping of publicly funded growth for the pgt sector which we have recommended, could lead to an unhealthy freezing of the historical distribution of activity. Institutions will be able to start new provision where they can attract sufficient private funds to provide courses. However, this may mean that there is reduced opportunity for provision which anticipates the market, and for institutions to enter into pg provision in the first place (which may be particularly important in relation to new subject areas). To ensure appropriate dynamism in delivery of pgt education, we recommend to HEFCE: that it should provide some limited funds to reward institutional plans for innovative forms of pgt provision. Such funding might be provided to match private contributions, might be targeted to enable institutions to experiment in new types and forms of provision, or might focus on new subjects and interdisciplinary areas and to develop models of excellence. Programmes relevant to TFP outcomes might be particular priorities.

Postgraduate research education

5.59 Our proposals for restraint on the distribution of HEFCE funding of pgr education may give rise to similar concern that ossification of the system might result. Pgr activity is an important component to research activity, and hence our proposed restraints might be regarded as 'barriers to entry'.

5.60 In our view, the effective delivery of pgr education is only possible once research culture and infrastructure have been established. The prior issue therefore is the maintenance of dynamism in the distribution of research activity, and we recommend to HEFCE: that it should have regard to ensuring this, which will underpin pgr education, as one element in the review of its research funding method which it is currently conducting.

The Research Councils and the British Academy (dual support)

5.61 We concluded in chapter 3 that some national action, in addition to a market system, was needed to enhance innovative provision developed by institutions, to promote interdisciplinarity and to ensure subject coverage - and otherwise to stimulate supply where the market may fail. This has primarily to be conducted by the Research Councils and the British Academy (with the support of HEFCE). We conclude: that action by the Research Councils and the British Academy will assist in ensuring dynamism in pg education in addition to the recommendations above which we direct to HEFCE.

5.62 The provision of public funds through the Research and Funding Councils for research grants and for pg studentships is termed the dual support system of public funding. In simple terms, the Research Councils provide specific grants and pg studentships, and the Funding Councils contribute to the institutional infrastructure which underpins these. (The arrangements are rather different in the arts and humanities where, in the absence of a humanities research council, the British Academy (through its Humanities Research Board) and the Funding Councils provide support for pg education and research activities.) In respect of pg studentships, in 1995-96, the Research Councils expended about £139 million and the British Academy £14 million.

5.63 In 1992, the respective cost responsibilities for research grants of the Research and Funding Councils were defined, which led to transfers of funds from Research to Funding Councils. The issue of the proper boundary for pgr education was addressed by the ABRC Working Group on Postgraduate Support, chaired by Dr Clark Brundin, which concluded that the Research Councils should move from a flat fee as at present (with some add-ons such as a Research Training Support Grant (RTSG), primarily for science and engineering pgr students, and specific contributions for items like travel and conferences) to fee bands which were set in relation to additional costs. We understand that the Research Councils have to some extent moved this way by rolling together payments of some elements of pgr research support (the fee and the additional RTSG, and some conference and fieldwork support). We welcome this.

5.64 The effectiveness of the arrangements established in 1992 for research grants are currently under review and an Office of Science and Technology (OST) report, prepared by Coopers and Lybrand, has been published. That report has revealed the disturbance at the local level that can follow from such changes in national funding arrangements. In evidence to us, some respondents argued for shifts of money between Research and Funding Councils, but we conclude: that the arguments for changing the distribution of funding for pg education between the Research and Funding Councils are not strong enough to outweigh the possible disadvantages.


6: Summary of conclusions and recommendations

6.1 The conclusions and recommendations which follow which we address to the CVCP and SCOP are necessarily UK-wide. Those directed to HEFCE are relevant immediately to England, but we hope that SHEFC, HEFCW and DENI will consider their applicability to their own constituencies and take forward those recommendations which seem to them to be appropriate. (paragraph 2.3)

National needs

Current, size, shape and structure of postgraduate education

6.2 The lack of precision in existing terminology for the pg sector hampers consideration of demand and supply. It also presents problems for assurance of quality and standards and for effective and fair methods of funding. (paragraph 3.27)

Supply

6.3 Institutional determination of the supply of pg education is essential and should be maintained. (paragraph 3.31)

6.4 Institutions in determining the nature of the courses which they provide, and the level of entry to these, need to pay particular regard to the employment opportunities that follow pg study, as part of assuring the quality and standards of the provision. (paragraph 3.32)

6.5 Institutional support of pg students is one effective way of ensuring that the supply of opportunities for pg study is in balance with demand. (paragraph 3.36)

6.6 Employment as a GTA (that is through payment by the institution for teaching duties) is a useful source of support for pg study, as long as GTAs - and indeed all other pg students who teach - receive appropriate guidance in teaching, and the institution ensures that duties are commensurate with the proper pursuit of pg study. (paragraph 3.37)

6.7 It would be very valuable if institutions were to provide relevant pg students with access to appropriate training towards becoming an HE teacher. (paragraph 3.38)

6.8 Wholesale national planning of the shape of pg education would present more dangers than benefits, and the most effective system for meeting national needs is primarily a market-led system. (paragraph 3.40)

6.9 We recommend to HEFCE that its primary objective with regard to the future supply of pg education should be to ensure the health of the pg sector which it funds (that is a sector which can deliver pg education of appropriate quality and quantity), and to facilitate a system whereby individual institutions can respond most effectively to the demand of students and employers. (paragraph 3.41)

6.10 The Research Councils and the British Academy should continue to play an important role in ensuring that there is proper attention to discrete areas of demand, and in stimulating supply where there is market failure. (paragraph 3.45)

6.11 The British Academy and the Funding Councils, alongside institutions, continue to have a central role in ensuring that there is an appropriate level of pg activity to support scholarship and to meet the needs of individuals for personal development in the arts and humanities. (paragraph 3.46)

6.12 We recommend to HEFCE that it should monitor developments in pg education in HE which emerge in response to TFP outcomes. (paragraph 3.47)

Demand

6.13 In general, there is employment advantage for those gaining pg qualifications, particularly where these are of high quality. However, the advantage conferred may take many different forms according to the type of provision. Employment advantage may not, in the main, take the form of immediate financial return. (paragraph 3.53)

6.14 Demand for pg study from individuals, and for the pg qualified from employers, will continue to grow. (paragraph 3.54)

6.15 Well into the next century there will be increased demand for pg education, in part as a vehicle for lifelong learning. (paragraph 3.56)

6.16 The expansion of ug education will lead to a higher percentage of graduates in the workforce, many of whom will perceive pg education as the vehicle to meet their later learning needs. Satisfying their needs will make a vital contribution to developing the wealth-creating potential of the nation. (paragraph 3.57)

6.17 Although pg professional entry is currently less common in the UK, this will be an important trend in the future. The professions will need increasingly to draw upon pg education for continuing professional development, as part of their requirement for lifelong learning. These developments should be welcomed as likely to make a significant contribution to the quality of life of the nation, as well as of individuals. (paragraph 3.59)

6.18 Further expansion of pg education to meet demand must be predicated upon the maintenance of quality and standards in provision. If the system cannot deliver greater quantity and maintain quality, then the latter must take priority. (paragraph 3.62)

Quality and Standards

Improving information: Directory of Courses

6.19 We recommend to CVCP and SCOP that:

a. Additional public information - what we have thought of as a 'directory' of pg courses - should be produced. A critical objective of the directory should be to specify the nature of the course in ways that are appropriate to different types of courses and informative for students, employers and funders. (paragraph 4.7)

b. The directory of courses should be structured upon a typology. (paragraph 4.8)

c. The proposed typology of pg courses should include classification by the 'aim of the course', described by such categories as: 'research and scholarship'; 'preparation for research and deepening subject knowledge'; 'conversion'; 'professional and practice-related'. (paragraph 4.9)

d. The typology of courses should include classification by the 'nature of study', and linked to this the 'method of assessment', categorised by: 'taught' and 'research' (with specification of proportions of research/taught elements in taught/research courses); and 'practice or the production of a creative piece of work'. (paragraph 4.10)

e. The 'prerequisites for entry' to a course and the 'length of course' should be included within the typology. (paragraph 4.11)

f. The typology should also include reference to 'level of study'. (paragraph 4.12) The level of study should be exposed in the typology through cross-reference to other classifications, and by 'credit rating' (even if this is not used by all institutions). (paragraph 4.14)

g. The typology should expose the proportion of ug material, or the number of credits at ug level, within a pg course. (paragraph 4.14)

h. The directory should also provide information relevant to quality, such as the outcomes of research and teaching assessment exercises in the relevant disciplines in that institution. (paragraph 4.16)

6.20 We recommend to CVCP and SCOP that they should seek views, in particular, on the concept of a typologically arranged directory of courses, on the suggestions which we have made regarding its format, summarised in Box 1 (page 35), and on the ways to take forward further work. (paragraph 4.17)

6.21 We recommend to CVCP and SCOP that, as part of further work on the typology, a method for audit of the information provided, which would not be unduly burdensome to institutions, should be explored. (paragraph 4.22)

6.22 We recommend to CVCP and SCOP that HEFCE (and indeed other funding bodies) should be invited to join the sponsors of the further work on the typology. (paragraph 4.23)

6.23 We recommend to HEFCE that once the typology has been developed to the satisfaction of the sector and HEFCE, its funding should be limited to pg student numbers related to courses described accurately within the typology. (paragraph 4.24)

6.24 We recommend to CVCP and SCOP that the directory of courses once developed should be compiled and disseminated electronically in the first instance. If the directory provides an accurate picture of provision in a suitable customer-friendly form, then it may have commercial value and dissemination in other formats should then be considered. (paragraph 4.25)

6.25 We recommend to CVCP and SCOP that the directory should also be produced with an eye to dissemination overseas, so that it may contribute prominently to the improvement of the UK's international marketing efforts. (paragraph 4.26)

6.26 We recommend to CVCP and SCOP that the directory should also include full specification of the price to be charged to any student. The directory should also, if possible, include sources of support for the student (including those provided by the institution). (paragraph 4.27)

Nomenclature

6.27 We recommend to CVCP and SCOP that they should consult, in particular, on how to move towards a standardised nomenclature and on our preliminary proposals on this in Box 2 (page 41). (paragraph 4.36)

6.27 We recommend to CVCP and SCOP that HEFCE (and indeed other funding bodies) should be invited to participate in any further work toward the development of standardised nomenclature. (paragraph 4.37)

6.28 If work on nomenclature comes to successful fruition, then we recommend to HEFCE that it should use data collected in relation to standardised nomenclature for funding purposes. (paragraph 4.37)

Assuring quality and standards

6.29 Greater clarity in the demonstration of the standards of pg education is required, and work in this regard needs to be taken forward urgently. (paragraph 4.39)

6.30 We recommend to CVCP and SCOP that the professional bodies should be associated with any future work on a typology of courses, and with ongoing work on the maintenance of standards. (paragraph 4.40)

6.31 It is absolutely vital to maintain the quality and standards attained in ug work in order to ensure quality, and to preserve standards, at the pg level. (paragraph 4.41)

6.32 We recommend to HEFCE, CVCP and SCOP that the single quality agency, once established, should be asked to give proper emphasis in its work to the distinctive nature of the pg sector, in those institutions or departments where this is relevant; should ensure appropriate approaches to assessment of quality at the pg level (including verifying typological descriptions and directory entries, in due course); and should satisfy itself, as a priority activity, that all pg provision is of satisfactory quality. (paragraph 4.43)

6.33 We recommend to HEFCE that immediately, as the norm, quality assessment reports should be provided separately for pg and ug provision. (paragraph 4.44)

6.34 It would be impracticable and inappropriate to establish norms for delivery of taught provision, because courses can be delivered effectively in many ways and may or may not suit individual students, depending on their objectives and needs. (paragraph 4.45)

6.35 Institutions should continue to be able to provide pgr education, and award research degrees if they have the appropriate authority of the Secretary of State. (paragraph 4.49)

6.36 We recommend to CVCP and SCOP that:

a. They should take forward the development of a code of practice for pgr education, which should address the issues which we have raised in Box 3 (page 45). (paragraph 4.49)

b. Individual institutions should be asked to subscribe to the code and the new single quality agency should be asked to monitor and audit institutional commitments. (paragraph 4.50)

c. They should ensure the involvement of other relevant bodies, notably the Research Councils, the British Academy and the HEQC, in the development of the code and of monitoring arrangements. (paragraph 4.51)

6.37 We recommend to HEFCE that it should in due course take account of the operation of the code of practice in distributing its funding for pgr education. (paragraph 4.52)

6.38 Each institution, where relevant to its mission, should consider, and keep under review, its organisational structure to ensure that this is the most appropriate to facilitate the work of pg students, should monitor and manage graduate studies and should develop graduate recruitment and teaching policies, consonant with its research, teaching and learning objectives. (paragraph 4.55)

6.39 Institutions should ensure proper involvement of pg students in student representation. Institutions should also pay particular regard to mechanisms for pg student feedback in their quality assurance systems. (paragraph 4.57)

Funding of postgraduate education

The use of public funds

6.40 Public funds should continue to contribute substantially to the support of pg education, and we commend this recommendation to the Dearing Committee of Inquiry. (paragraph 5.4)

6.41 Public funds should, in particular, continue to support pgr education, as part of the public investment in the academic and research base, and we commend this recommendation to the Dearing Committee of Inquiry. (paragraph 5.5)

6.42 If we are to sustain high quality in pg education, it is imperative that public funds underpin delivery of a robust and effective system of ug education, educating adequate ug numbers at an appropriate quality. We commend this recommendation to the Dearing Committee of Inquiry. (paragraph 5.12)

6.43 We commend to the Dearing Committee of Inquiry that it should take account of the considerable public benefits from pg education, which we have identified in this report, in making its recommendations for the future funding of HE. (paragraph 5.13)

HEFCE teaching funding

6.44 We recommend to HEFCE that it should have an explicit policy for pg education (paragraph 5.19). As part of this :

a. It should take account of the balance of pg and ug activity in the sector in determining the use of its funds. (paragraph 5.19)

b. It should operate separate ug and pgt funding cells, as it already does for pgr. (paragraph 5.20)

c. It should identify the ug and pgt student numbers in respect of which it provides funds, and increases in pgt numbers should not be allowed to affect the resource provided to any institution in respect of ug numbers. (paragraph 5.23)

d. It should provide no additional funds to institutions from its existing resources in relation to the further expansion of pgt numbers. (paragraph 5.25)

e. It should continue to identify separately the pgr student numbers in respect of which it provides funds. In addition, it should provide no further teaching funds to institutions through its teaching model in relation to expansion in pgr numbers. (paragraph 5.28)

f. It should separate the funds identified in relation to pgt and pgr student numbers, and in relation to ug student numbers, within its teaching funding model, upon the basis of the most recent (1995-96) redistribution survey. (paragraph 5.30)

g. It should revisit periodically the proportions of its funds distributed in respect of ug, pgt and pgr student numbers, and, in particular, should do so when the Dearing report has been submitted. (paragraph 5.31)

h. It should ensure that there continues to be appropriate convergence in the different rates for funding for different institutions, within the HEFCE teaching model, in respect of pg students. (paragraph 5.33)

6.45 The method being introduced by HEFCE for funding p-t provision is a valuable compromise prior to any possible introduction of a fully credit-based system. (paragraph 5.34)

HEFCE research funding

6.46 We recommend to HEFCE that it should limit its provision of funds in its research model in respect of pgr students to departments or comparable units which have achieved a rating of grade 3 or above in the most recent RAE, or which demonstrate the capacity to obtain significant research grants. (paragraph 5.37)

6.47 We recommend to HEFCE that it should in due course provide its funding in respect of pgr students only to institutions which have committed themselves to observing the code of practice for pgr education which we have proposed. (paragraph 5.38)

6.48 We commend to the Dearing Committee of Inquiry our conclusion that funding for pgr activity should be distributed to institutions in cognisance of the quality of research and pgr education that can be provided. (paragraph 5.38)

6.49 It will be important for individual institutions, which do not currently meet the conditions for HEFCE research funding in respect of pgr students which we have proposed but which wish to do so, to develop co-supervision and regional co-operative arrangements, to ensure access for those seeking pgr study, particularly on a p-t basis, in their region, and in order that talented supervisors are used effectively. (paragraph 5.39)

6.50 We recommend to HEFCE that it should continue to provide a 'floor' (within an institution's total pg funding as recommended by us) for pgr activity through the teaching model, which should not be restricted by the conditions for research funding which we have proposed. (paragraph 5.40)

6.51 We recommend to HEFCE that it should revisit periodically the funds that it provides through the research model, and as part of the floor provision in the teaching model. (paragraph 5.41)

6.52 We recommend to HEFCE that it should make every effort to ensure that definitions of pgr students are precise (that returns genuinely relate to indicators relevant to the volume of research), and that institutions are given appropriate guidance so that their returns are on a comparable basis, when collecting information on pgr students for its research funding model. (paragraph 5.42)

Fees

6.53 It must be for individual institutions to decide upon the actual levels of pg activity which they will undertake, since only they can judge what fees the courses they provide can bear in the marketplace, what further efficiency gains (if any) they feel able to achieve in respect of this aspect of their total activity and what other benefits a given course or student might bring to their institution. (paragraph 5.44)

6.54 Institutions will need to consider setting fees for pgt students at a higher level which will enable them to go further towards recouping the full cost of courses. (paragraph 5.46)

6.55 Institutions should take account of the EC market for HE in setting fee levels. (paragraph 5.49)

6.56 Further personal contributions, supported where possible, are inevitable in the case of pgt students. (paragraph 5.52)

6.57 We commend to the Dearing Committee of Inquiry that it should take into account the potential needs of pg students, particularly pgt and p-t students, in reviewing future student support arrangements in HE. (paragraph 5.56)

Funding a dynamic system

6.58 We recommend to HEFCE that it should provide some limited funds to reward institutional plans for innovative forms of pgt provision. (paragraph 5.58)

6.59 We recommend to HEFCE that it should have regard to ensuring maintenance of dynamism in the distribution of research activity, which will underpin pgr education, as one element in the review of its research funding method which it is currently conducting. (paragraph 5.60)

6.60 Action by the Research Councils and the British Academy (with the support of HEFCE) will assist in ensuring dynamism in pg education in addition to the recommendations above which we direct to HEFCE. (paragraph 5.61)

6.61 Arguments for changing the distribution of funding for pg education between the Research and Funding Councils are not strong enough to outweigh the possible disadvantages. (paragraph 5.64)