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Among the measures announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne during his annual Autumn Statement to the UK Parliament on 3 December 2014, one is very relevant for English higher education. It is the income-contingent loans package of a value up to GBP 10 000 (EUR 12 600) for postgraduate taught master’s courses in any subject. There will be a consultation on the final loan details, but they could be charged at a higher rate than undergraduate loans, while remaining below commercial rates. The government-backed loans will be restricted to people under 30 and available from 2016-17.
The number of UK-domiciled students enrolling on master’s course has plummeted in recent years, with Universities UK saying that 73% of the 140 000 entrants to full-time master’s degrees were from outside the UK in 2012-13. As a result, the proposal aims to bring extra 10 000 students into British postgraduate study, enabling more people to take advantage of postgraduate courses, including students from low income backgrounds. However, some experts are worried that universities may see the new financial support as an excuse to raise postgraduate fees for home and EU students.UK Government