HESA’s most recent (20/21) report shows us that first year postgraduate taught student numbers continued to rise, showing a 16% increase compared to the previous academic year. This increase comprises a 24% increase in enrolments from UK students and 8% increase from non-European Union (non-EU) students.
First year student enrolments for postgraduate research courses have returned to a similar level to 2017/18, following a 6% increase since 2019/20.
Following a decrease in the number of qualifications obtained in the 2019/20 academic year, 2020/21 saw increases for all levels other than postgraduate research.
The pandemic has contributed to a dwindling job market and falling economy, prompting upskilling and/or career change through postgraduate study, in order to improve their job prospects. The Times have recorded that businesses have cut their graduate recruitment employment level by a sixth, leaving recent graduates fighting over fewer available roles. Along with this, 60% of students are worried about post graduation job prospects.
Image Source: UCAS
According to IPD, a study found that specialisation in a field, change of career and progressing a current career make up over 55% of student motivations, demonstrating a strong intent to use postgraduate study for better employment prospects.
Not only is the dwindling job prospects applying pressure for graduates to stand out, there are also other factors, post pandemic, that have inspired people to choose postgraduate study. According to the Office for National Statistics, 42% of the UK population between the ages of 21 and 64 were university graduates in July 2017, an undergraduate degree no longer makes an individual stand out – so people are looking for more.
There are three strands to mindset change due to the pandemic.
- Flexible work, such as ad hoc bar or restaurant shifts have been limited
- Travelling has been severely restricted
- And the pandemic as a whole has given individuals the time to stop and think – re-evaluate what is important, start home businesses or discover new hobbies and skills
These plus numerous other reasons, are all opportunities to get your post-graduate degree into the forefront of people’s minds – help them to achieve their dreams and reach their potential – but how do you connect to this mass cohort?
With post grad education, there are a number of unknowns – prospective students have to do their own research as it’s not always seen as a natural next step, like university may be after sixth form/college. Naturally with this, comes anxiety, if you as an institution can answer their questions, surrounding if they are going to be surrounded by freshers students, when the SFE opens for post graduate students, how much more difficult the course will be compared to undergrad; plus a multitude more – you will automatically put yourself on the consideration list. Help, support and guide them from the beginning of their journey until their graduation.
Prospective students need information, and are actively seeking advice about:
For more thoughts from the Anything is Possible team, click here.