Funding boost for postgrad studies

Students at the University of York have received scholarships to study Masters degrees as part of a new multi-million pound scheme

Around 68 students have received scholarships as part of the scheme to encourage under-represented groups into postgraduate education.

York is a member of a consortium of six universities – Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, Warwick and York – which secured £3m funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to develop ways of attracting and supporting disadvantaged students into postgraduate study.

At York, the grant was used to promote access to taught Masters programmes starting in 2014/15. Each of the 68 students awarded a York Masters Opportunities Scholarship will receive £10,000 in the form of a full fee waiver combined with a stipend.

In addition, thanks to a generous donation by York alumnus Richard House, two further scholarships – the Tom and Eileen House Scholarships – have been awarded for tuition fees.

In total, the University of York will spend nearly £4m on postgraduate awards in 2014/15, including £680,000 under the HEFCE Postgraduate Support Scheme.

Simon Willis, the University of York’s Director of Student Recruitment and Admissions, said: “It has been shown that completing a postgraduate degree increases social mobility and plays a crucial part in creating a skilled workforce. The scholarships present a fantastic opportunity for these students to further their studies at one of the UK’s foremost universities.

“We place great importance on social inclusion at York and are very pleased to have been able to offer 68 full Masters scholarships to students who otherwise might not have had an opportunity to study at this level.”

The £3m funding secured by the consortium was part of £25m distributed to universities and colleges as part of the HEFCE’s Postgraduate Support Scheme.

Dr Paul Wakeling, a Senior Lecturer in Education at York, who is an expert on access to postgraduate study, is leading the research that will underpin the project at York.

Dr Wakeling is also working on behalf of HEFCE and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to identify and advise on the emergent findings from the portfolio of 20 projects funded by HEFCE under the Postgraduate Support Scheme.

For Heather Aspinall, the Masters scholarship will help further her career ambitions of working in the postproduction side of the film and television industry.

Heather, 23, from Swindon, graduated in 2013 with a BA in Film and Media Studies (2:1) from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, but has found it difficult to find a permanent job.

Heather says: “I have been repeatedly told a permanent position would require further education or experience and that I needed to specialise my skills. Studying at York will therefore greatly improve my career prospects.”

Heather, who has dyslexia and attention deficit disorder (ADD), will study towards a Masters in Postproduction with Visual Effects. “I really enjoy editing and postproduction, as well as animation,” says Heather. “I might possibly open my own business editing videos in the future as I want to keep a connection with the customer.”

She chose York because of the quality of the facilities offered by the Department of Theatre, Film and Television, and because of the city’s proximity to the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District.

Postgraduate students at 40 universities will receive support through the HEFCE Postgraduate Support Scheme, a £25m programme to test models for supporting progression into taught postgraduate courses in England. The scheme aims to ensure the continued success of taught postgraduate education by working with universities and employers to enable participation from students who may not otherwise progress to this level.

The 20 successful projects involve a range of support activities including financial and pastoral support, mentoring and networking, funded studentships, work placements and a variety of bursary and loan schemes.

The projects were recommended by a panel chaired by Professor Chris Brink, Vice-Chancellor of Newcastle University, and including members of HEFCE’s Strategic Advisory Committees, as well as representatives from the UK Council for Graduate Education and the National Union of Students.

Photo credit: Suzy Harrison



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