The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge are set to charge the full £9,000 a year in tuition fees, following the coalition government’s raising of the tuition fee cap.
According to a leaked consultation paper from Cambridge, “the level of tuition fee charged from 2012 entry should be the maximum permissible, i.e. £9,000 per annum with any subsequent adjustment for inflationary increases”.
Tony Monaco, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Oxford explained that to charge anything less than £8,000 would cause the university to lose money due to massive education cuts.
A report from Cambridge goes so far as to state that even £9,000 is not enough to prevent the university from losing money and that “to charge less than the maximum would be fiscally irresponsible. Most if not all of our peers will charge the maximum”.
The prospect of many universities charging the maximum allowed fee is not unopposed however, with ministers on Thursday 10 February publishing guidance which warned that if it becomes clear that large numbers of universities are “clustering their charges at the upper end of what is legally possible”, then “changes to legislation” may be considered according to ministers.
Universities minister David Willetts said: “The closer the price gets to £9,000, the more we demand of the access proposals.”
Nick Clegg, when questioned at a BBC debate about the universities which seem eager to charge the maximum, stated it was “not up to them”.
He named Oxford and Cambridge specifically as he said universities could “say what they like, they can’t charge nine-thousand unless they’re given permission to do so.”
He went on to claim that permission would be dependent on their ability to demonstrate that efforts are made to ensure greater access available to students from poorer backgrounds.
In November 2010, students at Christ Church College, one of the colleges of the University of Oxford, passed a motion in favour of the government’s plans to increase tuition fees. It was passed by 21 votes in favour to 14 against.
When asked about their plans for tuition fees and how it would affect prospective students, the University of Sussex said that they would not make any decisions until they had received full details of the Government White Paper, and that in compliance with the timetable set by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA), people can expect to see detailed information published on the university website by June this year.
The university explained that “over 20 percent of our current intake is made up of talented students from poorer backgrounds. It is important students like these understand that they can take advantage of the education and opportunities offered by Sussex.”
On Wednesday 16, Imperial College London announced that it would also charge £9,000 a year for its degrees.
Aaron Porter, President of the National Union of Students (NUS), commented: “It comes as little surprise to us that Imperial College has decided to charge at least £27,000 for a degree.
“My instinct is that many universities outside the Russell Group will also charge £9,000 to send a price signal of quality and the government has put in place no incentive to stop it.”