Private university's £5,000 tuition fees

By Sean Coughlan
BBC News education correspondent

BPP University College
Image caption,
Students will be able to work through the summer and take a degree in two years

BPP University College is to charge £5,000 per year in tuition fees for three-year courses from 2012.

This private university, with its own degree-awarding powers, will be among the lowest charging, alongside the Open University.

There will also be more intensively taught degree courses, which will cost £12,000 for two years.

Chief executive Carl Lygo said the private university college wanted to "challenge the educational status quo".

Mr Lygo said the fee level would allow students to "start their chosen career without a mountain of debt".

Fees market

The government wants to promote a market in tuition fees - raising the upper limit to £9,000 per year.

The range of charges is now emerging - with the highest for an undergraduate degree course so far set to be £36,000 for a four-year course in Edinburgh, payable by students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Scottish students will not have to pay tuition fees at Scotland's universities.

A majority of universities in England have set tuition fees of between £8,000 and £9,000 for some or all their courses.

The announcement of fees from BPP University College will lead to a three-year degree course costing £15,000. An accelerated degree course, where students work through the summer, will cost £12,000 for two years.

It will also mean that students at this private university will be able to apply for student finance in the same way as students at public universities.

The government announced earlier this year that students at private higher education institutions could borrow up to £6,000 per year to cover fees.

This will be the charge for undergraduate courses in law, business, accountancy and finance at the university college's bases in London, Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Swindon and Manchester.

The university college says it has 6,500 students at its law and business schools, and trains more than 30,000 accountants.

It challenges the traditional model of a university offering a three-year residential degree - and is aimed at students wanting work-related qualifications who might save money by living at home when studying.

"Universities have been forced, many for the first time, to make some tough decisions in order to compete in a changing and challenging environment," said Mr Lygo.

"At the heart of this is the student, who deserves value for money and the chance to improve their employability prospects and, as a sector, we mustn't lose sight of this."

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