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Study suggests students lack necessary skills for master’s programmes in the UK

According to a recent study published in a paper in ‘Teaching in Higher Education’, students entering master’s programmes in the UK lack the necessary skillset for that standard of study.

The research has indicated that there is “a gap between postgraduate taught students’ readiness for study at this level, the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) vision of master’s study, and institutional assumptions about student support required”.

The research was carried out through an online survey in which the staff in charge of master’s programmes in the UK participated and received 382 responses from academics in 60 UK universities.

The main issue that was singled out by all but six of the directors of master’s programmes surveyed was the “lack of preparedness for master’s level study”.

Gale Macleod, a senior lecturer in the Institute for Education, Community and Society at the University of Edinburgh and a co-author of the paper, told Times Higher Education that despite the fact that there was a “thriving market” for taught master’s in the UK, the research unearthed several problems that needed to be solved.

Furthermore, although doing a master’s programme in the UK was popularly sought after among international students, several problems rose due to the language ability of non-native English speakers. Dr Macleod said that this was not a particular surprise because it was “a known problem” among the sector.

“However, what was interesting was the overall sense that students at master’s level, regardless of their native language, struggled with the expectations,” she added, as many students were just not ready to work independently.

What was interesting was the overall sense that students at master’s level, regardless of their native language, struggled with the expectations

– Dr Gale Macleod

Arnav Srivastava, a student at the University of Warwick currently finishing his master’s course in Marketing and Strategy, stated that although he felt “unprepared” whilst doing his master’s course as it was “difficult and challenging”, he enjoyed his experience and that “the University of Warwick provided plenty of support” during his time of study.

Likewise, Mohit Vyas, who is completing his master’s course in Manufacturing Systems Engineering and Management at the University of Warwick commented that his lecturers were “there to help completely” during his course.

Mohit added that whilst carrying out his studies there were many opportunities “to make sure” that the students were “on track to working towards the masters” as the university organised various workshops to get the students involved.

A third University of Warwick student, Taranpreet Singh Khanuja, studying a master’s course in Logistics and Supply Chain Management, pointed out that his “previous years of study helped a lot” towards his master’s degree and that he did not face any challenges.

He further explained, that as an international student, it was beneficial for him to do his undergraduate studies in Birmingham university as “his friends faced difficulties because they were not accustomed to the essay writing, referencing and way of teaching here”.


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