Universities UK has called today [Wednesday] on government to upgrade the tuition fee cap in England in line with inflation and for financial support for students’ living costs to be improved. The tuition fee cap of £9,000 was introduced in England in 2012-13 following the vote in parliament in 2010.
The call comes from members of the Universities UK board following the recent recommendations of the Student Funding Panel. The panel was established last year by Universities UK to consider the design of the current student fees and loans system in England. While the panel found that, overall, the current system of student funding in England is broadly fit-for purpose, one of its main recommendations was for the level of financial support for students’ living costs to be increased.
Professor Janet Beer, Vice-President (England and Northern Ireland) of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool, said: “Financial support for students’ living costs needs to be improved. Evidence shows that students are more concerned about the level of maintenance support they receive while studying, than they are about the long-term repayment of their student loans dependant on income.
“With the tuition fee in England for undergraduate students from the UK and the EU capped at £9,000 since 2012-13, its value is being eroded considerably by inflation. Allowing the value of the fee to be maintained in real terms is essential to allow universities to continue to deliver a high-quality learning experience for students.
“These changes should be made now to ensure universities can continue to provide high quality education that meets the needs of students. Any changes to the system must also ensure that higher education remains affordable and does not deter any under-represented groups from study.”
The Student Funding Panel published its final recommendations on 15 June. The independent panel – established last year by Universities UK – was set up to analyse the impact of the reforms to funding for undergraduate students in England introduced in 2012–13, identify any major issues, and assess the options for reforming the system in the future.