The cost of uncertainty in the Master’s market

06 April 2023

Andrew Crisp looks at some of the data emerging from the next Tomorrow’s Master’s report

Specialist and pre-experience Master’s have been a wonderful success story over the last decade, while MBA admissions have some times stuttered and stalled. Data from the next Tomorrow’s Master’s report, soon to be published by EFMD and CarringtonCrisp, suggests that there may be trouble ahead in the Master’s market.

And the trouble is money. Economic uncertainty is causing students to reconsider. The top two reasons given by students for considering not taking a Master’s degree are financial – 47% are concerned about the living costs while studying, while 40% worry about being able to pay their fees.

When it comes to paying for their Master’s degree, 15% indicate they don’t know how they will pay yet. Just under a third (32%) will ask their family for financial help, 28% intend to apply for a loan, 27% are dependent on a scholarship and only 21`% suggest they can pay the fees in full without support from elsewhere.

Money is a regular theme throughout the report findings. When asked what are the three most important aspects when considering their ideal Master’s degree, the top answer is value for money followed by teaching quality and a strong employment/placement record. Asked about their choice of school, the joint top considerations for students are total fees and other costs and quality of career support.

Just under 1 in 5 (18%) are considering other study options to support their career rather than pursuing a Master’s degree. For a prospective student thinking about a degree, which 1 in 4 expect to cost more than £30,000 in fees alone , the advent of a range of short courses at a fraction of the price may seem an attractive alternative in the current economic circumstances. Add in quick impact on a career and the flexibility of online learning and the attractiveness of alternatives to a Master’s degree may be growing.

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