higher education

Two thirds of universities will charge the highest possible tuition fee.

The Coalition’s policy on tuition fees risked descending into chaos after it emerged that two thirds of universities would charge the maximum £9,000 a year for degree courses.  Ministers were accused of “losing control” of their flagship higher education reforms as growing numbers of vice-chancellors unveiled plans to almost triple fees in 2012.


The biggest study of its kind so far found 65 per cent of institutions in England intended to charge the maximum for some courses, with half saying they would charge £9,000 for all degrees.

Yesterday, Keele University in Staffordshire and London’s City University – neither of which are ranked in the top 40 – became the latest to set fees at the top level. University College Falmouth, a specialist arts institution in Cornwall, will also charge £9,000 across the board.

The Government had said fees of more than £6,000 would be levied only in “exceptional circumstances”. Last night David Willetts, the universities minister, said he now estimated the average fee would be pitched between £7,500 and £8,000.

The universities’ decisions mean the Government may have to provide significantly more money than it had expected to fund student loans. Labour claimed the black hole could be as large as £1billion over four years.

John Denham, the shadow business secretary, said: “The Tory-led Government has completely lost control of its fees policy. With more universities charging £9,000, the Government is set to have a big funding gap it will need to fill. This is unnecessary, unfair and unsustainable.”

Under the Coalition’s higher education reforms, passed by MPs before Christmas, almost all direct state funding for university teaching was abolished. To plug the gap, institutions can charge up to £9,000 – almost three times the current level.

Most students will borrow from the Government and repay when their earnings top £21,000 a year.

Long-term financial modelling carried out by the Treasury suggested that the average fee would stand at £7,500. But a survey of half of English universities by the BBC found that 35 out of 54 intended to levy £9,000-a-year fees for some or all courses. Of those, 27 intended to charge £9,000 for every degree subject. The average fee was £8,536.

Those announcing full fees to date include Bath, Birmingham, Cambridge, Durham, Essex, Exeter, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool John Moores, Loughborough, Manchester, Oxford, Reading, Sussex, University of Central Lancashire and Warwick.

All universities charging more than £6,000 must set out detailed plans outlining financial support for the most deprived undergraduates.

According to the latest figures, the size of bursaries and fee waivers differs significantly between institutions, with some offering £2,000 reductions and others cutting fees by £6,000 for the poorest students.

Mr Willetts told The Daily Telegraph that claims of a £1 billion black hole were “ludicrous” as headline

average fees would be reduced considerably when bursaries and fee waivers were taken into account. The claims also failed to take into account the possible expansion of college-based degree courses, which can be run at considerably less than £6,000, he added.

“Yet again, Labour’s figures don’t add up. We are on track to deliver reforms to higher education that mean better teaching for students, savings for the Exchequer and no payments up front for students.”

Via Telegraph