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A warning on how much universities will charge students

Arif Ansari | 18:19 UK time, Friday, 1 April 2011

Graduates at Liverpool University

How much are students going to end up paying for a university education?

The government is increasing the amount to £6,000 a year from next year. It is allowing institutions to charge a maximum of £9,000 in exceptional cases.

But it's becoming increasingly clear that if universities get their way, the maximum fee will be far from the exception.

So far we know Liverpool, Manchester, Lancaster and Liverpool John Moores University are all planning to charge the full £9,000.

This week I spoke to Professor Michael Brown, the Vice Chancellor of John Moores University, who was quite frank about the position.

"If we charge £6,000, we lose £26m. Can't do it," he said.

So, I asked him, did that mean no university would be able to charge that fee?

"If they do, I don't think they'll be around for very long. And they'd be a very different institution in a few years time," he replied.

Several universities are no doubt still deciding how much to charge, others are simply refusing to say.

We know that Cumbria University is applying to the Office for Fair Access, OFFA.

It would only need to do that if it wanted to charge more than £6,000, but how much more is not known.

The government is significantly reducing the amount it's spending on undergraduate education which means the financial burden is shifting onto students.

Universities say they cannot maintain quality without increasing fees.

But the Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Mike Storey, and the Conservative MP for Warrington South, David Mowat, told the North West Politics Show that universities could manage with £6,000.

"If you actually do the sums, and I sit on a university council, you find the sums do add up," responded Lord Storey.

But Professor Brown thinks the government has got it wrong: "I didn't do the government's sums. You'll have to ask the government how they did their sums.

"They presumably took some advice from somewhere."

It seems likely that some courses, possibly even some institutions, will close as students think long and hard before committing so much money to their education.

By then Michael Brown will have gone. He's retiring as Vice Chancellor later this year.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    The government has presented its fee proposal as if it were merely a rise in the NHS prescription fee, whereas it is in reality the privatisation of the entire service plus conscience-salving concessions for the "deserving" poor. I suspect that the result will be that our professions will in the future contain just little Camerons and Cleggs plus a tiny number of local boys and girls made good.

  • Comment number 2.

    It was interesting that when Mr Clegg decided that what he had signed pre-election wasn't worth a thing and shafted the future students, he and the others in the coalition were quite insistent that over £6,000 would be an exception.
    Wrong again. And I have a feeling they will pay for it in the local elections on May 5th.

  • Comment number 3.

    When they introduced the £6000 / £9,000 range I rememeber posting the question, "how long before ethe £6,000 becomes a floor and not a ceiling?"

    Answer, "no time at all."

    Obviously when compared to an additional £3,000 per year per student (an increase in revenues of 50%) the obligation to take on a proportion of poor students is not too onerous.

  • Comment number 4.

    I see the University of Central Lancashire are to charge £9000 per year from 2012. Good luck to them. As a former graduate I can confidently say they are cutting their own throats. Academic institutions have a reputation and excellent teaching to fall back on. As most of Uclan's students don't choose it as a first choice University in the first place, and many others are shipped in from abroad, they will think twice about applying in future.

    This is political motivation taking precendent over the benefit of students. A former poly with questionable standards of teaching and dubious degree courses (e.g. BA in Tableware anyone?) charging £9000 is patently not value for money. I suggest all these institutions are clubbing together to try and bankrupt the government over funding the upfront cost of these fees, and railroad them into changing the policy.

    The stupid thing is, the only other solution is to close some of the needless institutions (lets face it, we have too many universities to satisfy the needs of this country's young people alone) and Uclan is a ripe candidate for that. It is over-expansion of the University sector which means we cannot send people to University free of charge anymore. Free education based on attainment of good grades was always the fairest system - not this method now of 'it doesn't matter how bad your grades are, so long as you can live with the debt you can have a degree-of-sorts'.

 

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