- Over half (52%) of postgraduate students say studies have been interrupted or postponed since the start of the pandemic
- Concerns about their long-term financial outlook is affecting four-fifths (82%) of students and two thirds (66%) say their future employment prospects could be negatively impacted
- Many students are borrowing money from family and friends, relying on savings, or working part-time to help manage changes to their finances
Disruption to the progress of postgraduate courses in the UK is increasing the financial burden on students and raising fears for future employment prospects, according to a specialist education finance lender.
New research by Lendwise reveals over half (52%) of its borrowers that were surveyed have experienced delays to their studies since the outbreak of Covid-19.
As a result, nearly all students (94%) have taken action to address changes in their financial situation. Over half (53%) of those that were questioned have borrowed money from family or friends, 46% have drawn money from savings and 14% have begun a new part-time job or increased part-time work.
Official figures from the Department for Education reveal postgraduates earn on average nearly £20,000 more than non-graduates. But more than four-fifths (82%) of students Lendwise spoke to are concerned about their long-term financial outlook with 46% expressing serious concern.
As well as increased earning potential, the likelihood of employment is also greater for postgraduates. The Department for Education report that almost nine in ten (89%) were in work last year compared to just 72% of graduates.
However, the uncertainty presented by the global pandemic has dented the confidence of many postgraduate students when it comes to employment. As many as two-thirds (66%) of Lendwise borrowers believe their future job prospects will be negatively impacted compared to just one in five (20%) who do not expect to be affected.
The cost of studying a postgraduate degree was highlighted as a barrier to entry for nearly nine in ten (87%) of the postgraduates Lendwise surveyed, while 73% also referred to the cost of living as another major hurdle.
The most likely motivation for undertaking a postgraduate education was to become more attractive to future, prospective employers, as selected by four in ten (40%) respondents.
Given the concerns many students now have surrounding the state of the labour market in the UK and their future career prospects, the financial burden of postgraduate education could act as a greater deterrent to potential students in the coming years.
Rishi Zaveri, Co-Founder and Chief Executive of Lendwise comments: “In return for taking on greater debt and studying beyond graduate degree-level, postgraduates will typically go on to earn significantly more than the average worker.
“This earnings premium is one of the greatest incentives for people thinking about going on to study for a postgraduate degree. However, the outbreak of Covid-19 and the subsequent period of lockdown has disrupted many students’ plans and created a great deal of uncertainty.
“The concern students have is two-fold. Firstly, they are aware that delays to their studies could affect their finances and, secondly, that their job prospects could be damaged by changes to the UK labour market. The jury is still out as to how bad the effects of these will be.
“On top of this, their worries are compounded by changes in the way university courses are now being delivered, which is adding to students’ stress and leading some young people to defer their degrees.
“To help ease the financial pressure that many students are under, the Government should consider some form of relief package, similar in nature to the coronavirus business interruption scheme (CIBS), that targets those that are most in need.
“At Lendwise we are continuing our mission to bridge the funding gap between the Government Master Loan and the cost of undertaking postgraduate study. Now, more than ever perhaps, enabling access to education with a competitive and flexible student loan is of vital importance and this is Lendwise’s raison d’être.”