Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Letting down the next generation in Hyndburn - £9,000 per year tuition fee's the norm

£9000 tuition fees turn out to be the rule not the exception

David Cameron’s promise that £9,000 tuition fees would only be charged ‘in exceptional circumstances’ has been broken.

Following Tuesday’s deadline for universities to declare their fees, it is clear that the Government’s prediction that the average fee would be £7500 was a naive assumption.

In fact, the majority of universities will be charging £9000 as of next year. This represents a trebling of fees from one year to the next. The Government’s inaccurate estimate could result in a funding shortfall of up to half a billion pounds in 2014-15, according to independent research.

To fill this gap the Government has admitted it would either have to further reduce university places or make further cuts to university teaching budgets. The former could mean a reduction of 36,000 places.

Graham Jones MP said

“This Tory-led Government is making it harder and harder for the next generation to get on.

The Prime Minister promised that £9,000 tuition fees would only be charged ‘in exceptional circumstances’. It is now clear that a majority of universities are trebling their fees and £9,000 fees are the rule and not the exception. This government is simply kicking away the ladders from our young people.”

Ed Miliband MP, Leader of the Labour Party said

“This unfair and shambolic tuition fee policy is now unravelling. It will cost students more, it will cost the taxpayer more and it may cost thousands of people their place at university”

Notes

1. Universities and colleges had until Tuesday 19 April 2011 to submit their 2012-13 access agreements – the draft plans which state how much they plan to charge in fees, what concessions they intend to make for disadvantaged students and how they intend to widen access for minority groups. OFFA will then assess their agreements and announce all agreements that have been approved by 11 July 2011.
Offa press release, 8 March 2011, http://www.offa.org.uk/press-releases/offa-sets-out-what-universities-need-to-do-to-charge-fees-of-more-than-6000/

2. The Prime Minister previously said that universities will only be able to charge £9000 fees
in ‘exceptional circumstances’ and if they meet demanding tests on widening access. It is increasingly clear this is not the case.

“We will lift the current £3,290 a year cap on tuition fees to a basic threshold of £6,000. In exceptional circumstances, some universities will be allowed to charge £9,000. That’s the absolute maximum. These are the headline figures, and they are the figures that I know people are concerned about. “
David Cameron, speech to CentreForum, 8 December 2010, http://www.centreforum.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=221:david-cameron-&catid=35:recent-events&It emid=59  

3. Because they face a funding shortfall, the Government is now threatening universities with cutting the teaching grant or cutting student numbers in the event of “collective over-pricing”.

"My main point here is that Government essentially has two ways of dealing financially with collective over-pricing: either cutting the teaching grant or student numbers."
Vince Cable, speech to HEFCE annual conference, 6 April 2011, http://nds.coi.gov.uk/content/Detail.aspx?ReleaseID=419032&NewsAreaID=2

4. The House of Commons Library has estimated the additional public spending that will result from fees being higher than the Government had assumed. The table below shows the additional public spending compared to average fees of £7,500.