Indication of post Covid-19 life around postgraduate education published in new report

While it can be hard to imagine now, there is a life after Covid and everything will pick up once again. Here, we look at the future of third level education and by the looks of this data, overall, the future is bright. 

Fifty three per cent of new UK-domiciled postgraduate study full time while the female to male ratio among new postgraduates stands at 60:40 according to a report by Dr Ginevra House named Postgraduate Education in the UK (HEPI Analytical Report 1).

These are just two examples of the interesting data published in the report which is written in great detail. 

Much unreleased data has been published looking at the change in the postgraduate landscape in the last ten years. The report is the updated version of the last report recording the same type of data which was published a decade ago. 

The report also considers the effect of the 2008 recession on postgraduate education in the middle and as a result of economic challenges. The report also showed that those with a postgraduate qualification had an advantage over those who didn’t in the labour market. 

The majority of the data in the new report came from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). It includes a specially-commissioned dataset that includes a more particular breakdown of postgraduate qualification than the information that is normally available to the public. 

Speaking about the report, Dr Ginevra House said: “When writing this report, the Covid-19 pandemic had yet to emerge, but the risk posed by universities’ increasing reliance on international students was evident.”

“The crisis is providing a timely reminder of the importance of a diverse and balanced student body to weather future shocks to the system, supported by government policies that foster international cooperation and mobility of the world’s best and brightest,” she explained. 

“With the shadow of a new recession ahead, combined with a rapidly changing, more automated job market, postgraduate education has never been more important, to build the highly skilled, knowledgeable, flexible and independent workforce needed to tackle the challenges of the future,” Dr House continued. 

The report is very detailed and covers a multitude of information but below, are 10 findings from the report that are quite interesting. As well as the report finding that there was a higher number of young, female postgraduates studying full time in comparison to the report published 10 years ago, other findings include: 

     1. More than half (60%) of new postgraduate students at UK institutions come from the UK
– The remainder includes: 32%  from outside the EU and 8% come from EU countries. The majority of Master’s students (53%) come from outside the UK

       2. The most popular discipline is Business & Administrative Studies at 20%.
– In second place, at 14%, is Education followed by Subjects Allied to Medicine at 12%.

      3. Sixty-five per cent of new postgraduates are studying for Master’s degrees – that is two-thirds of the full number.
– These are made up of 18% taking a range of courses from diplomas, certificates etc, 10% doctorates and research degrees and 7% taking on teacher training.

     4. UK-domiciled postgraduate entrants increased by 10% however students from overseas grew faster between the years of 2008/09 and 2017/18.

     5. Chinese students make up 38% of the non-EU postgraduate cohort by 2017/18.

     6. The gender ratio varies considerably by discipline
– Women make up 77% of Medicine courses, 72% of Veterinary courses, 70% of Education courses
– Men make up 78% of Engineering and Technology courses, 76% of Computer Science courses and 71% of Mathematics courses.

     7. Women have a bigger increase to their earnings from postgraduate study

     8. The Demand for postgraduate education is likely to increase in the long term
– It is predicted that Brexit will have an effect on postgraduate students from overseas and close to 23,000 more students going directly from undergraduate to postgraduate studies. This, however, could now be affected by Covid-19.

     9. The employment of those with postgraduate qualifications was slower to fall and faster to recover than for those with only a first degree in the last recession

     10. White men are less likely to undertake postgraduate study than others. This was  particular to disadvantaged white men

It is important to note that all these figures came from statistics before the Covid-19 pandemic so they may change as a result of current events. 

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