‘Rising fees will deter students’

April 12, 2011, 11:26 PM GMT+0

More than three-quarters of the British public believe that rising tuition fees will lead to fewer people going to university, our Sunday Times poll has found.

Tuition fees are controversially set to almost treble when the existing cap is abolished in 2012. It is thought that most universities will charge between £8,000 and £9,000 a year, with almost half of all institutions imposing the maximum fee of £9000 on students.

  • 76% thought that rising tuition fees to this level will probably lead to fewer people attending university
  • Only 18% said they thought it wouldn’t lead to fewer people going to university

Encouraging those from poorer backgrounds?

Proposals to remove the current cap of £3,290 on tuition fees were first made in the Browne Review of higher education funding in October 2010. The resulting debate on the proposals sparked large protests from students opposed to any rise in fees, but despite such unrest the proposal was backed by parliament in December 2010, allowing universities to charge students up to £9,000 a year for tuition alone. All Russell Group universities, have now announced their intended fees, but many instituions have yet to declare the amount they intend to charge. Ministers have admitted that they are surprised by the number of institutions announcing that they intend to charge the maximum amount, with the government body responsible for ‘equal access’, the Office for Fair Access (Offa), having to take on more staff than anticipated to monitor the surge.

Universities wanting to charge more than £6,000 will have to set out measures such as bursaries, summer schools and outreach programmes to encourage students from poorer backgrounds to apply, and will also have to support them more when they are studying. This will take the form of means-tested bursaries and fee waivers, with each university offering its own individual scheme. Despite fees not being paid upfront but in instalments once the future graduate earns £21,000 or more a year, it is still feared that the potential £27,000 worth of debt with which each student could graduate may be enough to put many off applying altogether.

See the survey details and full results here (as part of our latest Sunday Times poll)