English tuition fees rise 'to cost Wales £110m'

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Media captionLeighton Andrews: "We will obviously need to look at how we can support Welsh students who travel to English universities"

Plans to raise tuition fees in England to up to £9,000 could cost the Welsh Assembly Government up to £110m a year, says the education minister.

Leighton Andrews spoke after the UK universities minister announced the change, due to start in 2012.

"We are working now on estimates at somewhere between and additional £70m - £110m per year," said Mr Andrews.

Dr Peter Noyes of the University of Wales, Newport, said a graduate fee rise in Wales was "inevitable".

Speaking on BBC Radio Wales, Mr Andrews said: "We have done some sums and we think that the cost to the Welsh budget of the £9,000 fees could be an additional £110m a year for the Welsh Assembly Government to find to support students from Wales who go to England.

The minister said that not all institutions in England would charge at the £9,000 level.

But he added: "We are working now on estimates at somewhere between and additional £70m - £110m per year from the 2012-2013 academic year."

Mr Andrews added that the assembly government was exploring a number of options to mitigate the cost of the increased fees in England for Welsh students.

Dr Noyes told BBC Wales that a long process would have to be gone through before a decision on what the decision in England will mean for students in Wales.

He added: "I think it's inevitable there will be an increase in that graduate contribution [in Wales] but it's the level of that contribution and it's the extent to which we can provide additional support to students from poorer backgrounds.

"Clearly the direction of travel is that we need greater funding for our universities and we need graduates to contribute to that funding line.

"The worry of course is that if we pitch those fees too high, it will begin to put off those students from poorer backgrounds."

Dr Noyes said there was "a desperate need" for additional revenue.

"The capital funding is drying up," he said. "We will soon have a much poorer higher education system if we continue to starve it of cash."

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