YUSU’s Academic Officer has said that the campaign against the increase in tuition fee levels is “over for now” with the application process halfway through for those applying for 2012/13.
Students debated whether they should continue to fight for lower fees or alternatively demand their money’s worth at £9, 000, following the decision to raise York’s tuition fees, at the Academic Assembly on Thursday.
The first cohort of students to face the new £9,000 fees have until 15th January to apply for university and national application figures are currently 15 per cent down at the same point last year.
Graeme Osborn, YUSU Academic Officer, stated: “It has become clear to me that the fight over the £9, 000 fees is over for now. It’s predicted that there will be a drop in applicants this year and a rise the year after. I think the fight has been postponed until we know how applications go this year. Whether or not next year will change, we don’t know.”
However students agreed that the national fight to lower fees should still continue, even if it is postponed on a local level. The general consensus was that the quality of the University will need to improve if students are expected to pay £9, 000 next year.
Issues such as: more contact hours; increased employability; more support for the Arts and Humanities; bigger lecture theatres; and more printing credit were addressed. However, even with quality improvements, students still doubted how many students would apply to higher education because of the fee rise.
Sophie Quick, a first-year Biology student commented: “Coming from a low income background myself, I know that the fees will put students off.
“It will benefit the University if they are more clear about the financial support available to students. The word ‘debt’ has such bad connotations, but students aren’t actually paying £9, 000 up front.”
The University of York is required to submit an access agreement in taking steps towards widening participation of students from lower income backgrounds. A high proportion of undergraduates studying at York, 27 per cent, are from a household earning less that £25, 000.