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North universities choose to go for big tuition fee hikes

Richard Moss | 11:11 UK time, Friday, 15 April 2011

Students protest about fees at Newcastle University

Students at Newcastle University protest about a rise in tuition fees which will see many charged £9,000-a-year for their courses.

The picture on tuition fees in the North's universities is becoming clearer, and so far it seems students will have little or no change out of £9,000-a-year.

It probably wasn't surprising that Durham and Newcastle chose to charge the maximum £9,000.

They are both long-standing and popular universities, ranked amongst the best in the country. They can be pretty sure they won't take a hit in terms of applications.

But the Government might have hoped to see the newer universities and former polytechnics charge less to offer the older institutions some competition, and give options to poorer students.

Teesside University has obliged to a certain extent, but an annual fee of £8,500 doesn't represent much of a discount.

Graham Henderson

Teesside University Vice Chancellor Graham Henderson says he can justify annual tuition fees of £8,500.

The Vice Chancellor, Professor Graham Henderson, says there will be extra help on offer to poorer students who will struggle with the fees, but the headline figure may well deter some.

Teesside can argue that it also has a good reputation as a recent winner of the University of the Year, but its decision reinforces the impression that most of our universities plan to charge closer to £9,000 than £6,000 per year.

York, Cumbria, Northumbria and Sunderland have still got to announce their decisions, but with so many Vice Chancellors choosing to go towards £9,000, the incentive for them to offer a much lower fee is disappearing.

And the universities who have revealed their fees say they need as much income as possible from them to sustain the services and teaching they offer students.

But of course the National Union of Students is less impressed.

It's been holding its annual conference in Gateshead this week, and delegates there were quick to talk about working class students being put off from applying to university.

The Government argues that for many students will benefit from a higher income threshold for repayments, and smaller monthly payments spread over a longer period.

So who's right? The Politics Show has been to Dyke House Sports and Technology College in Hartlepool to see whether 15-year-olds there are rethinking their plans to go onto higher education.

You can see the results on 17 April at 2pm on BBC1.

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