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EDITIONS
 Thursday, 20 September, 2001, 23:45 GMT 00:45 UK
Debt 'deters research students'
lecture
The issue of student debt has proved controversial
Student debt is principally to blame for the UK's failure to attract enough high-calibre students into post-graduate research in the arts, humanities and social sciences, the British Academy warns.

The "crisis" in the recruitment of PhD students could undermine the UK's knowledge-based economy, the academy's graduate studies review suggests.

Subjects with the most notable shortfall of students
Accountancy
Business and management studies
Economics
Education
European languages
Law
Creative and performing arts

Source: graduate studies review
In a survey of university department heads, 75% said they were having serious problems recruiting quality research students, while 84% said graduates were put off because of the debts they had already accumulated.

The review was commissioned in July 2000 in response to concerns that many of the country's finest students may be turning away from post-graduate study.

"The arts, humanities and social sciences make a vital contribution to the UK economy, providing high-level skills required to sustain an increasingly knowledge-driven society and economy," said Professor Bob Bennett, chairman of the graduate studies review.

"Unless the PhD intake is sufficient, in number and quality, sectors such as management, business services, and the cultural and heritage industries - government itself - will suffer," he said.

'Waive student debt'

"Waiving student debt is the single largest signal that would help to counteract the incentive effects of the growing number of 'golden hellos' and 'traineeship grants' offered by the private sector", Professor Bennett said.

If measures are not put in place to entice students into academia, then the intellectual and economic health of the nation will be jeopardised

Professor Bob Bennett
"Given the small numbers of relevant students, the total cost is relatively small, but the incentive effect, and the immediate marketing boost would be very significant."

The response from universities to the research reflected the strength of feeling on the issue, he said.

"If measures are not put in place to entice students into academia, then the intellectual and economic health of the nation will be jeopardised," he added.

The review noted the most significant shortfall in numbers in accountancy, business and management studies, economics, education, European languages, law, and creative and performing arts.


Talking PointTALKING POINT
 Student debt
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See also:

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