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Postgraduate loan plan criticised

Fears are raised that public funds would simply displace private money, writes Alison Goddard.

Government proposals to offer state-backed loans to postgraduate taught students have come under fire from six research-led universities. The chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, is widely expected to announce such a scheme in the autumn statement that he is due to deliver on 3 December. The Guardian reports comments made by Tony Strike of the University of Sheffield, which were first made on the HE site, who says that most masters degree students are self-funded and that providing public subsidies would risk transferring much of the financial burden from privately funded individuals to the state. Meanwhile the Institute for Fiscal Studies has identified that people who undertake postgraduate certificates in education as part of their teacher training will never be in a position to repay the loans.

The inspection regime by which the Home Office ensures that universities meet their legal requirements on immigration appears to be patchy. A series of Freedom of Information requests has identified that many institutions have not been visited for years while others get regular checks. There seems to be little reason for the variation. We have an article, available only to subscribers to HE, which examines how the University of Oxford is subject to frequent inspections (perhaps the lunch is rather too good?) while four other institutions say they have not been visited for years.

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