Plans for increased tuition fees revealed
The government have revealed controversial plans to base tuition fees on degree quality, giving some unis the green light to exceed the current fee cap of £9,000.
Just when you thought they wouldn’t dare charging students any more for their degrees, the government chance their arm even further (although admittedly, that's what we thought last time, too).
A new white paper has just been released that outlines a number of new plans put forward by the government with regards to how universities will operate.
Some of these plans are set to ‘outrage’ students across the UK (understandably!), as they involve allowing higher ranking universities to increase tuition fees beyond the £9,000 cap.
The white paper, entitled ‘Success as a Knowledge Economy’ was made public this morning, and so far the responses on twitter have been mainly negative.
Proposed changes to tuition fees
It’s been proposed that tuition fees should be linked to quality of teaching, meaning some top universities will be allowed to charge more than the current £9,000 per year cap.
This comes just after a government document was leaked revealing that the BIS (the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) think some lower ranking universities are charging the maximum fee when the quality of teaching wasn't good enough.
For the 2017-18 academic year, some university fees will rise to reflect inflation, but after two years some universities will apparently be allowed to charge even more on top that – but by just how much, we still don't know.
The government have said they will release details on which unis will be allowed to raise their fees at a later date – we’ll keep you posted!
Campaigners against the proposed plan are accusing the government of using this link between degree quality and fees as an excuse to remove the tuition fee cap altogether.
Sorana Vieru, vice president of NUS has said:
Students will understandably be outraged at any suggestion universities could be allowed to put fees up even higher in order to improve teaching quality.
It was only four years ago tuition fees were trebled and students now face debts up to £53,000 when they graduate.
The government should urgently reflect on this and drop this muddled proposal.
Opening of new universities
The white paper has also outlined plans to make it easier for new, for-profit (private) universities to be able to offer nationally recognised degrees from the day they open their doors.
The government claims they will be strict in assessing the quality of new universities before handing over these rights, but one Labour politician has warned that the move is likely to lead to "inadequate" controls over a "rapid expansion" in new universities.
Why do they think we need new unis?
This move to open new universities in the UK is allegedly in response to the fact that over half of job vacancies appearing across the next ten years will be in industries that require high-level graduate skills and knowledge.
The BIS have stated that new universities will have to be “innovative and flexible” with the kind of degrees they offer, so that they set students up well for future employment.
Why this would require completely new institutions altogether rather than taking steps to improve the quality of current universities and degree variety remains unclear.
Is there any good news?
Don’t worry, it’s not all just doom and gloom! Well... not entirely, at least.
The white paper has also suggested that a new ‘Office for Students’ watchdog panel be introduced.
This will mean a group of students will have a (hopefully) dominant voice when it comes to university quality control – they’ll be recognised as a kind of student consumer group when it comes to assessing universities and how transparent they need to be about the quality of teaching they offer.
Seeing as students are required to part with thousands of pounds each year on their education, it makes sense to let them have their say!
There’s also been talk of a “transparency revolution” on the cards. Universities will be required to release data on the number of applicants from ethnic and minority backgrounds who apply for their courses, and how many of these students are actually accepted to study there.
Another potential bonus is that it might be made easier to switch courses within your university, or from one university to the next, if you’re not happy with the quality of teaching. Every cloud!
Follow #HEwhitepaper for updates.
Confused about how much you'll be paying for your degree and how much support you'll get from the government? We have everything you need to know in our complete guide to student finance.