Universities will raise their tuition fees at the start of the next academic year and will continue to do so in the coming years.
The ‘cap’ limiting the amount that universities could charge students for tuition was nearly trebled in 2012, increasing from £3,290 to £9,000 per year. 5 years later, it has risen again by 2.8% to £9,250.
Contrary to what Universities Minister David Willetts said in 2012, this latest tug on students’ pockets is not ‘progressive’ reform as the burden of the state to provide education is not diminishing this time round; rather, it is inflation-linked. Because inflation is continually growing, prospective students are expected to be set back at least £1,000 more than they are now in a few years time.
Unsurprisingly, the mention of higher fees caused an insurgence of criticism amongst those involved within the education sector, and especially from students. The National Union of Students (NUS) has started a #CutTheCosts campaign to lower the debt imposed on students. They have also reportedly joined with the University and College Union (UCU) to protest in a demonstration in November after this week’s protests in Parliament Square. according to the Independent website.
The Government has said that the increase could apply to courses that have already started, but that it would depend on the individual universities, a BBC report states.
Parliament met yesterday to debate the reform, after which Universities Minister Jo Johnson published a statement permitting the ‘fee hikes’. But before that, some universities including Durham, Royal Holloway and Kent, all listed courses at the new cap of £9,250 in a preemptive strike on students’ hopes that the bill would be discharged.
Huffington Post UK was told in an interview with Angela Rayner, Labour’s new shadow education secretary, that the Tories were ‘jumping the gun’. Sally Hunt, leader of the UCU, said that this does nothing to ‘quell concerns that universities are simply after as much cash as they can get’.
In the interview, Rayner outlined the perceived hypocrisy demonstrated by the Conservatives for not following through on their plans to improve social mobility.
“The Tories are letting down young people. First they trebled tuition fees saddling students with debt, now they’re going up again.
“I warned the new Secretary of State only yesterday that an increase in fees will be just another barrier to aspiration, making it even more difficult for those from low and middle-income families to get the best education they deserve.
“It is a tax on aspiration and opportunity, despite Theresa May’s warm words about One Nation.”
Currently, Oxford University, in a bid to improve social mobility, are offering more places to those from disadvantaged backgrounds, reports the Times.
The government is also looking to take away Maintenance Grants and replace them with ‘Maintenance Loans’ that will force those who require help with funding their studies to pay them back with interest after they complete their time at university.