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Application Fees for Taught Postgraduate Degrees

Originally Published 15 October 2003

The University is to charge an application fee for taught postgraduate courses as of Wednesday 15 October 2003. It will be £20 for an online application and £30 for paper based.

Increasing Numbers of Applications

The number of applications for taught postgraduate places at Warwick has almost doubled over the last two years. Each application has to be individually processed and considered taking increasing amounts of academic and administrative time.

Number of
Number of
that Year  
2000/01 5500 1400
2001/02 6800 1500
2002/03 9100 1700

The most up-to-date figures for this year’s applications show a figure of 16,000 applications so far for both taught and research postgraduate courses.

(All these figures exclude MBA applicants who are already charged an application fee.)

Processing Applications is a Long Process

The Admissions Tutors among you will know that it takes fifteen minutes to half an hour to put a form on to the admissions system, but that’s only the starting point. It needs to be checked for supporting documentation and that supporting documentation needs to be checked for authenticity. Then the University may correspond with the applicant about supporting documentation - often many emails/phone calls are exchanged. We currently advise applicants that the average taught application will take 4-6 weeks to turn around.

The £20/£30 fee is a token amount when you look at how many man-hours admissions take.

What is Causing the Problem?

Two types of applications are causing a particular problem and have led to the carefully considered decision to introduce an application fee:

1. Speculative Applications
Some applicants appear to make speculative applications to a long list of institutions. Here the fee will have particular effect as, while it is a small sum for one application, if other UK universities follow Warwick’s lead the cost of making multiple speculative applications will quickly mount up and become an effective deterrent.

2. Inappropriate applications
We have found that many applications fall well below the published criteria for taught postgraduate places at Warwick. 10% of UK applicants and 20% of overseas applicants don’t have a high enough primary degree, usually a minimum of an upper second class honours degree is required, however some applicants have a third class honours or no degree at all.

Are Other Institutions Charging?

US universities and most other overseas institutions charge an application fee for all their taught postgraduate students.

The London School of Economics (LSE) introduced its fee several years ago and many other UK universities are considering introducing a fee to discourage inappropriate applications as they face exactly the same problems.

The Postgraduate Recruitment and Admissions Team will be working closely with departments to monitor the impact of the fee through the year.

What do you think?

As a department we welcome the application fee for taught postgraduate degrees. It encourages students to think carefully about which courses they apply for rather than sending out mass applications. At undergraduate level the UCAS system forces prospective students to narrow their choice down to six institutions, you could argue that prospective postgraduates should be being even more selective.
Nathan Morris, Postgraduate Admissions Tutor

I welcome the introduction of the application fee for taught postgraduate courses. I hope and believe that it won't deter applicants for whom study at Warwick is a serious and considered aspiration. Large application volumes in recent years have placed a heavy burden on administrative and academic staff (all of whom also have to handle the increased volumes of funding council applications), and it seems reasonable to build in a fee high enough to give pause to speculative applicants, but not too high to deter the committed would-be student.

"It also seems fair for the SRAO to explore ways of reducing the enormous burden of applications which has been placed on them. In return, Academic departments will look to the SRAO to monitor the effects of the fee, and to exercise case-by-case discretion in relation to students from the poorer parts of the world. Some smaller departments in the Arts Faculty are particularly concerned about the possible deterrent effects of the fee, and a process of review and evaluation will also be important here."
Karen O'Brien, Chair of the Arts Faculty Graduate Studies Committee

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