English student fees to hit £8,500 next year
By Vivienne Russell | 26 July 2012
Student fees in 2013/14 will average out at £8,500 in England, a £120 increase over the coming academic year, the Office for Fair Access has revealed.
Two-thirds of English colleges and universities – 149 out of 225 – intend to charge more than the basic £6,000 fee in what will be the second year of the new student finance regime. Institutions levying charges above the basic level have to prepare access agreements, setting out their measures to attract and support students from disadvantaged backgrounds. These agreements then need to be evaluated and approved by Offa.
Publishing its decisions on the access agreements for 2013/14 today, Offa said 6.7% of English universities and colleges (a total of ten institutions) will charge the maximum £9,000 for all their courses without any fee waivers for poorer students. They include University College London, Durham and University College Falmouth.
The regulator also found that by 2016/17 universities and colleges would be spending £671.8m on access measures. This would equate to more than a quarter (26.7%) of their fee income.
Offa fair access director Sir Martin Harris said: ‘Predicted spending on both financial support and outreach activity is up significantly compared to spending under the old fee and support arrangements.’ But he added that the balance of financial support had changed from predominantly bursaries and scholarships to a mixture of bursaries and scholarships, fee waivers and other support such as accommodation discounts.
Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, said the figures showed that HE institutions were committed to widening access for poorer students.
‘Location and the make-up of student intake means each institution’s agreement will be different. The agreements do not represent all expenditure on access measures and universities will also be allocating resources on financial support, outreach and retention,’ she said.
‘It is increasingly important that we focus on what works best for students and we support Offa’s work on expanding the evidence base for access measures.’
But Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: ‘When pushing higher fees through Parliament, ministers promised that fees above £6,000 would be the exception rather than the 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% this year following the massive hike in fees. Decisions about what and where to study at university should be based on an individual’s academic ability, not on how much a course costs.’