Students who opt for a Master’s degree programme lasting more than one year in one of the industries that experience a tight labour market are relatively highly motivated by subject matter and moreover have little choice of fully-fledged alternative programmes. The effect of the student loan system on this particular intake is therefore expected to be smaller than the effects on the total intake into higher education. The effect on the latter, without supplementary measures, is expected to be about -2%. If policy-makers consider that there are substantial undesirable effects after the introduction of student loans, measures should ideally target students’ subject-based motivation and financial considerations when choosing a subject.

As students taking multi-year Master’s programmes will be faced with additional cost once the student loan system is introduced, there is a fear that intake into these programmes could decrease. This particularly affects such programmes that train graduates for ‘shortfall sectors’ where there is already tension between the supply and demand of labour. Against this background the report explores the expected effects of introducing the student loan system on the intake into multi-year Master’s degree programmes in these shortfall sectors.