Postgraduate education in the UK is like an exclusive golf club, where only the wealthy need apply, claims the liberal think-tank, Centre Forum. The lack of an undergraduate style loans system means poorer students are often unable to take up places on postgraduate courses, it says.
The report is particularly critical of the government backed professional and career development loan scheme (PCDLS).
The Higher Education Statistics Agency suggests that the number of UK graduates enrolling on taught masters degrees is in decline in England, particularly among part-time students.
"There was a 4.5% fall in UK postgraduate participation at English institutions in 2011, while first year part-time enrolments in England fell by almost a quarter.
"Without policy intervention, these trends are likely to continue, the club is getting more exclusive", warn the authors.
Rachel Wenstone from the National Union of Students said: "You increasingly have to be either extremely rich, extremely lucky, or take an extreme gamble, taking on dangerous levels of debt, to take a master´s in this country.