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University and College Union responds to budget

16 March 2016

UCU said today that new loans for doctoral study announced in the budget would leave many PhD graduates with student loans of over £80,000, and warned that this could act as a disincentive to pursuing a career in academia.

The chancellor's budget included an announcement that loans of up to £25,000 would be made available to unfunded doctoral students at UK universities from 2018-19. However, UCU highlighted that students who take out the maximum tuition fee and maintenance loans for undergraduate and master's study as well as the full doctoral loan would accrue total debts of up to £86,600 by the end of their studies.

The union said that this was blocking off a key pathway into the academic profession, and called on the government to make a greater public investment in postgraduate study.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'The chancellor's rapid expansion of student loans in recent budgets has created a huge debt burden on the poorest students, and this latest announcement will only increase that problem for those wishing to pursue a career in academia.

'Instead of blocking off a key academic pathway with a mountain of debt, the government should be prioritising direct public investment in the postgraduates who will make up our future higher education workforce. They are at the forefront of the UK's knowledge development and are absolutely critical for our nation's economic success.'