Tuition fee cap removal leaked

Tuition fees could rise from their the current level of £3,225 up to £14,000, depending on the outcome of this week’s parliamentary election

Tuition fees could rise from their the current level of £3,225 up to £14,000, depending on the outcome of this week’s parliamentary election. An official review into university funding led by Lord Browne, former CEO of BP, is due to report back in the autumn.

The report, commissioned by Labour with agreement from the Conservatives, may recommend that the current cap be lifted completely. This would mean that most students would have to pay for their degree in full. This equates to around £7,000 per annum for most students. For more expensive courses, including sciences and medicine, this could rise to as much as £14,000.

With the election just days away, the balance of the new parliament will have a dramatic effect on the implementation of the review. Both Labour and the Conservatives have refused to make any firm policy commitments on student fees until after the report is published. Currently the Liberal Democrats are the only party who oppose tuition fees, with proposals to stop final year students’ fees next year and to phase out all fees across a six-year period.

In the event of a hung parliament, it is uncertain whether they would be prepared to abandon the policy.

Felix Bungay, Chairman of the York Tories, said that in the event of a Conservative-Liberal coalition there may be a compromise with tuition fees remaining at their current levels. However, he also stated that he didn’t think “it was a very high priority for the parties”.

Around 235 Labour and Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) have signed the NUS pledge on tuition fees, stating that they would vote against any bill in parliament which would increase tuition fees, casting into doubt whether such a bill could be enacted.

The news comes at a time when pressure from university vice-chancellors to overhaul the current funding system has been mounting, following cuts to the higher education budget.

The University of York’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Students, Jane Grenville, told Nouse: “We don’t, as a University, lobby government to put fees up. We would be very happy if government supported Higher Education from the public purse, and [Vice-Chancellor] Brian [Cantor] made representations publicly about this last year, but to no avail.”

Grenville continued to state that “realistically… we don’t think that that will happen, so we will now wait to react to what comes out.”

Although the report will not be published until after the election, it has been made clear by Browne that he favours completely abolishing the cap.

The cap would not be removed immediately; rather, new fees would be phased in. Universities would be able to raise fees on an annual basis. This could be by as much as £1,000 per year.

“We oppose any increase in tuition fees and any further marketisation of higher education.”

YUSU President
Tim Ngwena

The Sunday Times has suggested that increases could be felt from as early as 2013, and that “the subsidised interest rate on student loans would go, with bursaries ensuring that applicants from poorer families were not put off university.”

A rise in the interest rate could come into affect almost immediately, as the rate for student loans is set on an annual basis. It is unclear as to whether a change in the interest rate would affect those already have loans from the Student Loans Company.

Many have raised concerns about the effect that a rise in tuitions fees could potentially have. The current NUS President, Wes Streeting, described rises in tuition fees as a “nightmare scenario”. Streeting added that it “would lead to students choosing courses on the basis of cost, rather than suitability.”

NUS President-elect, Aaron Porter, who will take up his post in June, urges students to continue to campaign against a lifting of the cap on fees. “This is a time to continue pressurising politicians not to increase the cap on fees, and we will be publicly shaming those that refuse to sign our ‘Vote for Students pledge’, which has already been signed by more than 700 candidates. Students, families and the wider public overwhelmingly oppose higher fees and I will fight to ensure that politicians listen to them.”

A first-year English literature student said: “We’re already taking out loans to be able to pay, what happens if fees increase further?”

Another second-year student, however, suggested that changes in the structure of fees may prove beneficial for some students: “Finally, arts students are not going to be forced to subsidise expensive science degrees any more. I think that those degrees are important, but I fail to see why those who only have four contact hours a week should pay the same as those who have 20.”

“This is the time to continue pressurising politicians not to increase the cap on fees.”

NUS President-elect
Aaron Porter

YUSU have also commented, saying: “We oppose any increase in tuition fees and any further marketisation of higher education. We’re awaiting the outcome of the Browne review and we’ll be campaigning to ensure that any of the proposals in it will be in the best interest of York’s student body.”

Top-up fees were first implemented in 2006; the bill to introduce them was narrowly passed by the House of Commons with 316 votes to 311.

5 comments

  1. University education is a privilege, not a right. You have to pay for it. Grow up.

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  2. Thanks “rich boy” for that completely idiotic response. There’s a difference between paying for it in a manageable and sensible way, and paying for it with an appropriate price tag, and what is being on offer here. I’m not paying £52,000 to get a degree that may possibly get me more money if I choose to go into higher-earning jobs.

    As I have said on countless articles, comments, blogs and radio shows, the current situation is appalling. If you take a typical debt amount – of £3,000 per year tuition and £4,000 living expenses per year, of a total £21,000 – then you would be paying about £900 interest per year. To pay that off at the 9% above £15,000 per year rate, you’d have to earn £25,000 to pay off your debt. CURRENTLY you have to earn 25k to pay the debt off. What about lifting it to £10,000 per year? £34,000 per year to pay off your debt. And that’s only to pay it off many years down the line.

    I don’t object to paying for it. I object to the fact that most people CAN’T AFFORD TO pay for it. The possibility for university education is a right – attending university is not a need but a want and as long as it’s a sensible system (which tuition fees aren’t), I’m happy. But firemen, teachers, nurses, etc. aren’t ever going to be able to pay off the university education that many of them need to get that job. How many teachers don’t go to university? Because a basic teacher wage can’t pay off the debt. And though it eventually gets cancelled, many years down the line, it looms over you the entire time and can affect credit rating. Horrible system, horrible idea.

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  3. 6 May ’10 at 1:18 pm

    ian curtis (previously anon)

    @ rich boy

    “University education is a privilege, not a right. You have to pay for it. Grow up.”

    I sort of agree, and then I don’t. There is a massive difference between going out to work for a year/two years and saving up £6-8k for university to cover your maintenance etc, then working post grad and paying off a tiny proportion of loan debt per year…to this? The suggested rise is MASSIVE and will have a massive impact on university demographics.

    I think it’d be a real shame of the prices went up, as ‘poorer’ students would be put off of getting into such vast debt at such a young age, £14k is a yearly wage to some people..don’t forget? It’d be horrendous to see the demographic of uni (especially one such as ours..) to shift from 30% private school 70% state to the inverse, majority private and minority state.

    It’s an exclusive policy which is so narrow minded, I think that students from all backgrounds whether it be rich/poor, domestic/international, etc, add a lot to the university experience (in terms of your course, group work, and societies) as well as life experience- it’ll be good for a lot of people who have grown up in middle-upper class bubbles to integrate into ‘normality’ at university, and see another side of life, and this proposed rise would prevent that?

    Additionally, standards would fall. Rich doesn’t necessarily mean smart, sorry to burst your bubble. I know that I’m doing a lot better than my super rich ‘daddy has everything covered’ housemates because I know I’m gonna have to pay every penny back so need a top class degree, else I’m fucked. Whereas they see it as some sort of free holiday where they can smoke weed all day, walk out of exams early, not do their coursework, etc, cos it’s an all expenses paid trip up north by daddy and mummy :’) It potentially excludes a lot of driven, ambitious, and intelligent people based purely on their parent(s) earnings? How is that fair?

    University is not a god given right, but it’s not restricted to the upper crust of society. It’s something we all earn through a level grades, applying, working, and earning money.

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  4. University fees are just going to be stupid now they are going up.
    No-one will be able to afford it, everyone will be in debt at a young age. Debt at a young age appeals to no-one.

    Doesnt seem like they thought it through enough. ‘Poorer’ people wont be able to go to university so we will have more un-educated people in the country which could end up asking for job-seekers allowence.
    We have problems with our tax at the moment as it is. We dont need more people claiming and wanting more money, which is paid by people who have worked hard. Its not fair.

    I intend on going to university when i have finished my A-levels, but at the rate its going, im being put off very rapidly! I cant ask my family to pay for me, as its not fair. They paid for me to go to school as it is, and asking them to pay for me to go to university is just unfair. I alone wont be able to pay for it, as i wont be able to gain enough money to cover all my expenses.

    its just plain stupid!
    worst idea they could come up with.
    Effects everyone!

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  5. The tuition fee rise is ridiculous. I am aiming to go to Cambridge University (currently in Year 12), so I will inevitably end up going to pay the cap of £9,000pa. On top of that there are living expenses of approximately £7,000pa – in total, double my mother’s income pa. Over a 3 year course, I will end up with £48,000 debt. I also want to do a postgraduate degree.

    Whilst all of this is a choice, it is one that has become more difficult, due to the massive rise in fees, but I refuse to deny myself a world class education.

    But, RICH BOY, remember some people do not have the priveleges you do, so do not gloat or be glib about what affects thousands of people in a massively negative way.

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