Details have recently come to light of the proposed changes to be introduced by the University after the tuition fee increase is implemented.
University officials have revealed that they have been involved in ongoing discussions of ideas and schemes that could be introduced in 2012, when the fees will be set somewhere between £6,000 and £9,000, to ensure students feel they are getting ‘value for money’ out of their University experience.
The focus has been on combating what they termed the “hidden costs” that students face at University, such as books and living expenses.
Ideas that have been suggested varied from making all printing on campus free, and giving the whole student body complementary gym and York Sport access.
If the University chooses to raise the fees to above £8,000, students could also be given all books required for their course for free and even each be given a laptop free of charge when they begin at York.
“The more we can take out of upfront maintenance costs the better that will be in terms of immediate benefit to students.”
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Students
Smaller seminars reminiscent of Oxford and Cambridge, with only two or three students per group, are also among suggestions, and the University has already hired an additional 60 lecturers to increase student-teacher contact time across all courses.
Jane Grenville, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for students, spoke candidly about the discussions, stating that they are “all up in the air at the moment” but that they “want to be absolutely categorical about what you pay for with your fees.”
She continued: “The University is looking to take out some of the huge hidden costs that the University controls, and incorporate them into the fees, so students won’t have to pay them back till they are earning.
“We cannot promise we will cover all things proposed, but the more we can take out of upfront maintenance costs, the better that will be in terms of immediate benefit to students.”
She also stated they were looking into giving incoming first-year students free electronic access to their text books before they arrive at the University.
However, Grenville was keen to stress that nothing will be confirmed until the University are given the full outline of their Higher Education funding and upcoming requirements by the government in March and that all the proposals were being put forward at “an un-priced level”.
Tim Ngwena, YUSU President, stressed the need to remember additional costs to student life unrelated to the University. “It’s vital that whichever proposals the University decide to fully evaluate, they bring about added value to the student experience.
“Hidden course costs are one aspect but the largest costs reside off campus in rents and increases in the cost of living, VAT, fuel and energy prices, all aspects which continue to increase expenditure for students.”
The University also confirmed that the tuition fee would not cover any accommodation costs for the incoming students as it would be “unfeasible.”
Students remain divided over the possibilities within proposals put forward by the University. One first-year student expressed their enthusiasm for the ideas, stating: “I love systems where all the hidden costs are incorporated, it makes life easier and so much more efficient. I think people would get more out of University this way as they wouldn’t be afraid to buy text books etc. It would certainly mean we wouldn’t have to fight over key texts.”
However, first-year Philippa Grafton was opposed to the proposal because students today usually have their own laptops before coming to university and therefore paying the extra £2,000 or £3,000 wouldn’t be worth it.
“To be honest I would rather pay £6000. I can understand the University wanting to incorporate hidden costs into the fee, but I feel lots of people wouldn’t use them enough. Most people have a laptop from sixth form and not everyone wants to go to the gym, that’s an extra. I would rather keep my student debt down and pay for these costs as I go along.”
Ngwena added: “Until the government releases its white paper on fees, it’s difficult to speculate on what’s a better choice.
“However it’s great to see that the University has realised some of the large challenges it faces to addressing student experience, and maintaining York’s current competitive ranking, on a national and increasingly important global market.”