Tuition fees set to rise under new government

Image: Wikimedia Commons

University tuition fees are still set to rise to £9250 a year for new students from this September due to the recent general election returning Theresa May’s Conservative Party to government, albeit a minority one that is due to rely on a ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement with the rightwing Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

In July 2016, Universities Minister Jo Johnson announced a rise in fees from £9000 to £9250 for both new and current students, although the University of York confirmed before the start of the current academic year that current students’ fee rate will remain the same for the duration of their study. Fees were also set to rise with inflation in subsequent years, with higher fees linked to a higher level to teaching, although most universities are expected to be able to charge the higher fees.

Future tuition fee rates were cast into doubt in the recent election, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn promising to abolish them completely, in a direct appeal to younger voters by his party. The proposals, which included the re-introduction of maintenance grants for the poorest students, were costed in Labour’s manifesto at £11.2bn, around a quarter of Labour’s planned increased spending proposals, with Mr Corbyn also dis¬cussing looking into writing off the debt of graduates.

The plans came under fire from some however, with the Conservatives claiming that “there isn’t a magic money tree” to pay for the plans. However, due to Labour’s election loss, the Conservatives are expected to continue with their plans to increase fees, which only effects students in England, as education is a devolved matter for the other nations.

In Northern Ireland, where the DUP were until recently the majority partner in the administration before its collapse alongside the republican Sinn Fein, home students are charged £4030. Welsh home students are charged £9000, with the first £4046 coming from a repayable loan, and the remainder from a grant.

This is a similar figure to Welsh students studying in England, who can apply for a repayable loan of £4296, with the remaining balance being paid from a grant. Scottish home students pay no fees.

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