Celebration marks postgraduate scholarship fundraising progress

Celebration marks postgraduate scholarship fundraising progress

Oxford University is celebrating its success in fundraising for postgraduate scholarships. 

An event at the new Weston Library on 26 October brought together postgraduate scholars, bursary-holders, scholarship donors and university staff to celebrate Oxford's fundraising success and welcome new scholars and bursary-holders to the university. More than 1,000 fully funded scholarships will be available to postgraduates in 2016-17, a total boosted by the Oxford Graduate Scholarship Matched Fund. Established in 2012 through a groundbreaking fundraising initiative, the Matched Fund now supports 166 postgraduate students and will support even more in future thanks to an additional commitment of £30 million from the university in 2015, which is already being matched by donors.

The University has also published a report detailing the results of its participation in the Higher Education Funding Council for England's (HEFCE) Postgraduate Support Scheme, designed to encourage UK and EU students from under-represented groups to progress to graduate taught courses. Oxford won the largest single institution grant (£3 million) under the pilot scheme to understand barriers into accessing postgraduate education and increase mobility into taught postgraduate study and on to a range of professions.

The university's HEFCE project offered 116 full scholarships including fees and living costs to home and EU students, for the first time using information about financial circumstances and socio-economic data, as well as academic merit, to award scholarships. It also awarded paid research internships to undergraduates to encourage them to consider postgraduate study and funded professional internships to taught postgraduates to help them make informed choices about career progression. The project included a bespoke professional and personal development programme for female postgraduate students, whose career progression rates still lag behind those of male students.

The report's research findings identify some of the barriers to accessing taught postgraduate courses, and offers insights into the factors influencing student decision-making around taking up study. It also suggests some ways universities can best support taught postgraduate students financially and in their future career progressions. A longer-term programme of policy research has also been initiated as part of the pilot project, which is being funded by the University.

Dr Jane Sherwood, Director of Graduate Admissions and Funding, said: 'The joint commitment of the university and our donors to postgraduate scholarships strikingly demonstrates that funding postgraduate study is an access issue, particularly funding master's courses as a route into the professions and the bridge to doctoral study'.

The Oxford Graduate Scholarship Matched Fund was established in 2012 and aims to raise an endowment of £200m for new graduate scholarships by July 2017. The University contributes 40% of the funds for these scholarships, together with 60% from donations provided by supporters of the University and its colleges. In 2015-16, 112 students supported by the fund arrived at Oxford. To date, Oxford has received or had written pledges for over £64m of donations, which will be matched with over £43m from the university.