Hefce surveys postgrads amid ‘crisis’ talk (UK)

By Tom Barfield

England’s funding council has commissioned educational research company i-graduate to research the information needs of taught postgraduates, who now make up around one fifth of all UK students. The study aims to understand students’ motivation for taking up postgraduate courses and the sources of information they use to make that decision, as well as to identify gaps in the data. “There’s a dearth of information about postgraduate students,” said Fariba Dashtgard, a senior policy advisor at Hefce. “We’ve been tasked with investigating the information they use to make their decisions.”

The move comes in response to last year’s higher education white paper, which proposed Hefce investigate the introduction of standardised information on courses, similar to the Key Information Sets (KIS) available to prospective undergraduates. The survey will also investigate whether a similar programme to the National Student Survey of undergraduates’ experiences would be appropriate for taught postgraduates. “First we’d like to understand what the information needs of postgraduate students are, and whether there’s a need for a standard set of sources that they could use to decide on their course,” said Ms Dashtgard. “Going on from there, we can investigate whether we need to conduct a regular survey.” The survey comes in the wake of a 1994 Group report, The Postgraduate Crisis, released in February. Among its recommendations were the establishment of “an appropriate information, advice and guidance resource for postgraduate students” and the introduction of a National Student Survey for postgraduates.

Source: Times Higher Education http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=420833&c=1