Tuition Fees at UK Universities Might Be Reduced to £8,500

United Kingdom Europe Higher Education News by Erudera News Oct 27, 2021


Following the proposal to reduce university tuition fees from £9,250 to £8,500, high-level talks focusing on the matter have taken place in Whitehall, London, the Guardian has reported.

It has been reported that officials from No 10, the Treasury, and the Department for Education (DfE) have been involved in “lively” discussions to possibly cut the tuition fees; nevertheless, the latter seemed to have struggled coming up in time with an agreement over the chancellor’s spending review.

A source told the Guardian that the Treasury had made efforts to cut tuition fees to £8,500, which could help in reducing the amount that undergraduates must borrow and, in turn, the amount that the state will take if students do not manage to pay the fees back, within 30 years.

However, officials from DfE and No 10 have not agreed with the proposal over the cut, claiming that such a decision could negatively affect universities’ finances due to pressure from rising inflation.   

The Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), Nick Hillman, wrote in a HEPI blog that the Augar recommendation of a cut of almost 20 percent, to £7,500 seems to be unlikely, in particular in the context of rising inflation as it could affect institutional finances. However, he added that the idea of a smaller cut could have been further discussed.

“But the idea of a smaller cut of a few hundred pounds seems to have stayed on the table even as £7,500 slipped to the floor and the Augar argument that university-based Foundation years are overpriced still rings in some people’s ears,” Hillman wrote.

Previously, the former Minister for Universities and Science (2010-14) Lord (David) Willetts recommended a reduction in the student loan repayment threshold, from over £27,000 to £23,000, to make the system stable again. 

“Specifically, a material drop could reduce the loan write-off costs back to where they were meant to be when the current funding system was implemented in 2012,” Hillman adds in his post.

According to sources, there might be less information on higher education in the chancellor’s spending review, with a future announcement once a deal is reached.

A government spokesperson told the Guardian that the student loan system aims to ensure all those who want to attend higher education reach their goals, as well as to make sure that the cost of higher education is “fairly distributed between graduates and the taxpayer.”

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