A recent report has suggested that a dramatic increase in tuition fees could damage Brighton and the surrounding area’s economy.
The report, from Centre for Cities named Brighton and Hove as a city having the eighth highest level of undergraduate spending in the UK, with £324.5 million a year contributed, or 5.3% of the city’s economic activity.
It is suggested that university cities may lose out economically from fee increase.
Undergraduate spending is considered important in the report, which names 10 cities with large student populations which contribute economically.
It is feared that setting fees at a maximum of £9,000 a year, may decrease demand for university places.
The idea is some universities will have difficulty attracting students, which will negatively impact on the university and wider city economy.
A spokesman from the University of Brighton expressed confidence stating: “We have attracted nearly 40,000 applicants this year… and we are confident that students will continue to value the high-quality professional and socially and economically-relevant degree courses that we offer.”
Meanwhile in a statement the University of Sussex said “We do not believe that the new fee regime will reduce the number of students coming to the University of Sussex, since we currently receive over 18,000 applications for just 2,500 places.”
The university explained how a strict government cap prevents the admission of more home and EU students, but that plans are already in place to increase student numbers with additional international students attracted to study here, with a “25% increase in overseas numbers in the last year”.
Although the increase in tuition fees may decrease opportunities for some potential students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds to apply, it was assured by the University of Sussex that “we are of course keen to ensure that talented students from poorer backgrounds are able to take advantage of the high quality education Sussex provides.
Our First Generation Scholarship scheme will provide direct financial support and practical help, before, during and after studying here.”
“The fee repayments will of course not be paid while students are studying, but only once they leave and are earning over £21,000.”
This suggests that students who have loans will not necessarily have to consciously reduce their spending behaviour.
Brighton’s universities already provide an economic ‘boost’. An independent report commissioned by the universities of Brighton and Sussex showed the institutions added over £1 billion to the local economy of Brighton and Hove and the south east.
Sussex has stated “[the university] makes a very significant contribution to the economy in the city of Brighton and Hove, and the wider south east region”.
In addition, involvement in the local economy will continue with “demand for work experience, internships for skills development, volunteering and paid employment increases.”
This can enhance student opportunities with skills and experience and the University of Sussex “will be working even more actively with local employers and organisations to ensure our students can access such opportunities.”
The city will not necessarily become less popular, as the statement from the University of Sussex says “Thriving and attractive cities such as Brighton […] can provide a high quality education experience, a remarkable cultural life, great social experience and good part-time employment opportunities, plus acting as a good base for finding graduate level jobs across the south-east region”