A cross-party review plans to raise university tuition fees by as much as £1,000 each year until they are almost five times higher than they are now for some courses, it was reported today .
The review, led by Lord Browne former chief executive of BP, has proposed to raise fees by up to £1,000 annually from 2013 for several years, the Sunday Times said.
This would eventually lead to students being charged £7,000 a year for courses at universities such as Oxford and Cambridge, and up to £14,000 a year to study for a science degree.
Speculation has been rife over what the review would conclude.
It is due to report its recommendations in the autumn. Labour and the Conservatives have refused to state their policies on a fee rise in advance of the review, while the Liberal Democrats have promised to phase out fees.
A source close to the review told the Sunday Times that Browne intended to create a free market in fees, enabling universities to charge students the full amount it cost to run degree courses.
It costs an estimated £4,300 in addition to fees to meet the full costs of the average course. Some argue that the current fee cap is not affordable. A growing number of students attend university and repayment terms for student loans are generous.
The source said Browne was “hawkish” and wanted the cap on fees lifted, “but would go by tiers”.
The source hinted that the subsidised interest rate on student loans would go. It has been predicted that the review will recommend a rise in fees of £5,000 or £7,000, or a scenario in which students paid different fees according to which course they are on, as in Australia.
Wes Streeting, president of the National Union of Students, said lifting the cap was a “nightmare scenario”. “It would lead to students choosing courses on the basis of cost rather than suitability,” he said. But Lord Patten, chancellor of Oxford University, has said tuition fees are “preposterously” low and must rise if British higher education is to remain world class.
A spokesman for the review said: “The review’s call for proposals is still open and the review has certainly not come to any conclusions yet.”
Source – www.guardian.co.uk