The University will increase the fees it charges on some master’s degree courses by up to 50% next year, according to a Badger source.
Fees for non-laboratory courses will be set at £7,500, while laboratory courses will cost £9,000 – a 25 and 50% increase respectively.
A University spokesperson said: “In previous years, postgraduate fees have been set lower than the cost of delivery and the University has been cross-subsidising these courses from other sources of income. Unfortunately it is no longer feasible to do this”.
According to Postgraduate Education Officer Rose Taylor, the cost of postgraduate degrees is currently subsidised by above-cost charges levied on international and undergraduate students.
Taylor told The Badger she found it “interesting” that while the transfer from international to postgraduate students was ending, international student fees would be going up too.
She said: “There’s extra money going somewhere, and I don’t know where.”
Taylor has also taken issue with the University’s claim that, in spite of the fee hike, prices will remain “in line with that of the rest of the sector”.
She told The Badger that the University arrived at this conclusion by “selecting a different set of universities just to suit them, which includes Oxford, Cambridge and UCL.
“Cardiff, Warwick and Exeter, which are some of Sussex’s usual comparator institutions, have kept their postgraduate fees substantially lower than Sussex’s for 16/17”
The Postgraduate Education Officer also speculated that the fee hike could have to do with the launch of the £10,000 government loan scheme starting next year.
A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that private universities in America raise their tuition fees by 65 cents for every dollar increase in government-subsidised loans. According to a summary by Bloomberg, “loans meant to help students cope with rising costs are quickly eaten up by universities in higher prices”.
Taylor argues this is happening in England too, saying: “The University knows people are going to have more access to money, and so they charge more. They can, so they’re going to – but I don’t see a proper justification for it”.
In a press release, the University cited a report commissioned by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), which found that it costs over £11,000 to teach a postgraduate course.
The University said: “Postgraduate courses are, on average, more expensive to run than undergraduate courses, due to smaller class sizes, higher contact time and higher supervision of project and dissertation activity”.
They went on: “The recent changes to the University’s scholarships (for example the Sussex Graduate Scholarship and Chancellors’ Masters Scholarship) mean that many students will not be affected by any future changes to fees.
“We have recently increased the level of our post-graduate scholarship awards and opened these up to overseas students. We are delighted that many of our post-graduate students will be able to take advantage of these very competitive scholarships and continue to enjoy their studies at Sussex”.
The increase in master’s degree fees was approved by the University’s Council and Senate, which is made up of academics and student representatives.