SUSU has pledged to support an NUS campaign to remove the age cap for postgraduate study.
The former coalition government created an age cap of 30 for the new postgraduate taught loans, due to be introduced in 2016. The National Union of Students (NUS) has started the #CapsOff campaign in order to put pressure on the government to remove the age cap.
The previous government claimed that due to limited resources and funding, postgraduate taught loans would be better for younger students, who have a greater need for the loans under the assumption they have lesser access to funds than those over 30. Postgraduate students over the age of 30 will have access to funding, but it will be means tested, meaning it’s not accessible to all. Government research found that the barriers to study for that age group isn’t money but other commitments such as work and dependant children.
According to Shruti Verma, Vice President Education, the benefits of removing the age cap for postgraduate students include improved access to education, financial security and increased diversity, with people of different backgrounds able to study at postgraduate level.
In a SUSU blog post, Postgraduate Research Officer, Mike Allwright, said:
Many PGRs [Post Graduate Researchers] enter research groups as mature students having first completed a taught postgraduate programme. These individuals can provide different skills and perspectives to younger postgraduates and the age cap on PGT loans should not be allowed to prevent otherwise well-qualified people from pursuing an academic path.
In the same post, Postgraduate Taught Officer, Ed Baird, said:
It’s great that with this loan scheme postgraduate study opportunities are now an option for many students, but the age cap of 30 is unfair to mature students. Postgraduate study should be an option for anyone, regardless of age.
Students who want to get involved with the #CapsOff campaign are encouraged to use social media to raise awareness of the plans and use the hashtag ‘#CapsOff’ Alternatively, students can contact their local MP through writing to them, emailing or phoning them or attending a surgery. This way students can encourage their local MPs to be ‘Postgraduate Champions’ and discuss the issue in Parliament as well as supporting an ‘Early Day Motion’ for debate on postgraduate funding.
VP Education Shruti Verma told Wessex Scene:
We have approached the university for their official stance and following their response we hope to work together to influence the government’s policy and remove the age restriction on the loans. So far at the Union we have reached out to the postgraduate community to make them aware of the situation and invite anyone who wants to get involved to contact me. I’m working closely with both the Postgraduate Taught Officer and Postgraduate Research Officer to make sure that we progress in the way that students want. I’ve also been asked to draft a template letter for those who want to lobby their local MP to support the campaign – I’ll be publicising this later today. My aim is to make sure we do what we can to make education accessible to everyone and remove the barriers for postgraduate education no matter what your age.
For more information on the #CapsOff campaign from NUS click here.