Posted on Fri 01 Jul 2016 at 11:12 by Christopher Carter
The University has just announced £500,000 of widening participation (WP) bursaries, which will be available to students starting a taught Masters course in 2016/17. These are available to Home/EU students who meet particular WP criteria, and the bursaries are in the form of 100 awards of £5000 each. This is available in addition to the government Masters loan of £10,000 which I blogged about back in December 2015.
Increasing access to education is an area that I am extremely passionate about. I believe that, in many respects, the financial barriers at PGT level can be even greater than for undergraduate degrees for Home/EU students. The provision of these WP bursaries is something that I have been fighting for since I became PG Officer - I challenged the University to address the issue in a blog back in October 2015 and brought it onto the agenda at the University’s Board of Graduate Studies. I then used the opportunity of Vice-Chancellor’s Question Time to get the issue higher up the agenda, and it was there that Vice-Chancellor Stuart Croft committed to take a closer look at the matter. I am delighted that, after many months of negotiation, the University has approved this financial support for postgraduate students in a bid to widen participation.
The move is a very positive one for a number of reasons:
- The University is acting independently of the government, who have pulled their direct-matched funding for widening participation at PGT level.
- The University is acting upon the evidence that Masters loans will not be sufficient for addressing WP at PGT level.
- The University has moved beyond the government’s narrow definition of widening participation backgrounds to include some notion of mature students and carers.
Considering points in my October 2015 blog, there are a number of areas that I hope that University can build upon for future years:
- The WP eligibility should be reviewed further to explore the inclusion of BME and gender WP criteria, for example, and whether any subject specific eligibility should be incorporated.
- An earlier release of bursary information, since June is very late in the year for applications for a 16/17 start.
- Consider whether WP eligibility can be extended beyond solely Home/EU students. Whilst not directly comparable, the University has been able to provide 20 scholarships for refugees this year.
- Consider how to address postgraduate research WP.
- The bursary, coupled with the full government loan, would amount to £15,000 - which still falls short of many of the course fees plus living costs necessary to study at Warwick. We may need to consider whether a more nuanced level of bursaries would be preferable to ensure that all of the University’s courses are within the reach of students.
I look forward to working with the University to review the scheme for 16/17 and amend the scheme where appropriate for 17/18 and beyond.
Full details about the Warwick Taught Masters Scholarship Scheme can be found on the following webpage: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/academicoffice/gsp/scholarship/typesoffunding/wtmss
The application deadline for the scheme is 21st July 2016.