Tuition fees to rise again
The Office for Fair Access (Offa) has said today that Higher Education tuition fees will increase again in 2013, from an average of £8,414 in 2012 to £8,507.
This comes as three-quarters of universities in England will charge the maximum £9,000 tuition fees for some or all of their offered courses, despite the government saying in 2010 that universities will only charge £9,000 fees in ‘exceptional circumstances’.
All 122 higher education institutes (HEI’s) included in Offa’s report will charge above the ‘basic fee’ of £6,000 for undergraduate courses.
The average tuition fees for home and European Union students in 2013 will be £8,615 per year, and £6,429 per year for further education colleges that offer degree courses.
When all government financial support is taken into account, the average fee cost will be £7,898 per year.
In the Russell Group of leading research universities, 19 out of the 20 institutions will charge £9,000 in 2012 and 2013, with the London School of Economics being the only university to charge £8,500 in both years.
The high tuition fees will come as no surprise to those who argued the government’s statements that the new fees will put ‘competitive pressure’ on universities to provide degrees at lower costs.
Sally Hunt, General Secretary for the University and College Union (UCU), said, “When pushing higher fees through Parliament ministers promised that fees above £6,000 would be the exception rather than rule.
"Today's figures confirm our more accurate prediction that fees closer to the maximum of £9,000 a year would in fact be the norm.
“There’s little pleasure in being right, especially as we saw a drop in student applications of almost 10 per cent this year following the massive hike in fees.
“Decisions about what and where to study at university should be made based on an individual’s academic ability, not how much a course costs.”
All English HEI’s offering undergraduate degrees must obtain approval from Offa in order to charge above the minimum £6,000. They have revealed today that all 122 HEI’s that applied have been approved for 2013-14, along with 28 further-education colleges.
The report also states that 26 per cent of tuition charged above the basic £6,000 will be used for access projects, such as financial support, bursaries and summer schools.
With the current 10 per cent drop in English HEI applications this year, rising tuition fees could fuel this decline, but Sir Martin Harris, Director of Fair Access at Offa, said that in future years universities may have to lower their fees to recruit the top students.
Further, the decline in applications does not appear to be significantly linked to students from disadvantaged areas. Instead it would appear that older students are now less likely to apply.
By Danielle Eades