Tuesday, 17 March 2009

UK University fees to rise

This blog was originally created to help Chinese students choose which UK University to study at given the relative lack of good information. The right hand column of this blog if you scroll down lists different "economics" courses on offer and the "good" Universities that provide them.

There are a number of posts on this topic and links to league tables for Economics departments also in the right hand column.

For all this, it appears that studying in the UK is about to get more expensive. As an academic in a leading UK institution this is good news for the faculty but not so good new for the student. However, if the UK is to compete with the US to offer the best education in the world then these increased prices are essential.

Universities push for higher fees [BBC]

Many universities in England and Wales want a sharp increase in tuition fees, a survey by BBC News has concluded.

Two thirds of vice-chancellors, speaking anonymously, said they needed to raise fees, suggesting levels of between £4,000 and £20,000 per year.

More than half of university heads want students to pay at least £5,000 per year or for there to be no upper limit.

England's Higher Education Minister David Lammy said there was an "important debate to be had".

The National Union of Students has warned of debts of £32,000 for students if fees rise to £7,000 per year.

Higher debt

The controversy over tuition fees is set to be re-opened, five years after it sparked one of the biggest backbench rebellions faced by the Labour government.

University fees must be reviewed this year by the government - and there are already arguments about whether the present £3,500 cap on fees should be lifted.

Students considering university are concerned by rising fees

Any changes will affect about a million students on undergraduate courses.

Universities UK has set out the consequences of fee levels of £5,000 and £7,000 - arguing that if fees reached £7,000 a market of differently priced courses would emerge.

This has angered the National Union of Students, which wants to entirely replace the fee system with repayments linked to later earnings.

"In the context of the current recession, it is extremely arrogant for university vice chancellors to be fantasising about charging their students even higher fees and plunging them into over £32,000 of debt," said NUS president Wes Streeting.

Students are now planning a lobby of the House of Commons on Wednesday in a protest against increasing fees.

Sally Hunt, leader of the UCU lecturers' union, accused vice chancellors of "ignoring the views of the general public as they try to secure more cash by any means possible".

Labour backbenchers are also mobilising on the issue - with MP Paul Farrelly, a former fee rebel, putting down a motion in the House of Commons warning against any plans to hike fees.

Mr Farrelly said the government would ignore "at its peril" the risks of pushing through another fee increase.

Recession and resistance

The BBC survey, gathering the views of 53 university vice-chancellors, showed a wide range of expectations of the scale of any increase - from £4,000 to £20,000 per year.

There is an important debate to be had now, which is about how we maintain the world class status of our higher education sector

There were also some expectations of differences between universities and courses - with more than a quarter saying they would not charge the full amount.

About one in 10 wanted the cap scrapped altogether so universities could charge whatever they wanted.

There was widespread support among vice-chancellors for the principle of fees - three out of four believing they had been a successful policy and nine out of 10 saying they should not be scrapped.

Two thirds believed fees had not deterred applications from students from poorer families.

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