University Fees Funding Gap
The rise in university fees has made headlines again this week as the estimated cost to the tax payer has been released. In April it was announced that the amount of universities expected to enforce the full £9000 a year fee was more than MPs had expected when they voted in the plan.
These figures led to the announcement that the number of places available at universities was going to decrease, and the amount of student loans made available by the government was similarly going to decrease by 10%.
The rise in fees was only anticipated to apply in exceptional circumstances, and so the amount of universities declaring their intentions to raise their fees was unexpected. This puts the country in an unhealthy financial situation that will cost the taxpayer an estimated £95 million extra per year. This figure is based on the extra £1250 per year each university intends to charge on average; MPs predicted universities to charge £7500 when in fact they’re proposing to charge £8750.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has reported that it is not yet clear whether this will entirely deter students from applying, but that the financial situation of a university should be fully disclosed to prospective students when they are applying.
The current practise of an institution at financial risk is to disclose nothing publicly for three years in the interest of that institution. However, now the entire financial situation of university funding has changed, earlier disclosure has been urged.
A spokesperson from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has said that many universities will offer waivers and bursaries from 2012, meaning a 10% increase in cash support from the public to universities.
The changes to the overall system mean that this is a time of uncertainty and instability in education, and that if the government isn’t more wary could do lasting damage. This is being put down to the wrong sums having been done to begin with, and the final cost remains unclear.
The overall opinion of the funding gap is that it should affect the education provided to students and the opportunities available to them as little as possible. The PAC report is revealed as Oxford academics prepare to hold a vote on a motion of “no confidence” in the government’s higher education policies.