University bosses have argued for tuition fees to be raised closer to £24,000 a year, to close the gap with the average price paid by foreign students.
They say the £9,250 paid by students in England and Wales, which has been frozen for a decade, will be worth around £6,000 because of inflation.
But why are university chiefs calling for this change? Here’s what you need to know.
Why are university bosses calling for £24k per annum fees?
Vice-chancellors in England and Wales say they need to take more undergraduates from countries such as India and China to boost their incomes.
According to The Times, the fees need to be raised for domestic students to keep their institutions running.
Sir David Bell, vice-chancellor at the University of Sunderland and former permanent secretary at the Department for Education told the Sunday Times: “You cannot expect to run universities on a fee level of £9,250 a year, which by 2025 will be worth around £6,000 in real terms because of inflation.
“If you want to keep running universities even at the level we have now, you have to increase the tuition fee at some point.”
He added that universities “cannot afford not to take more overseas students”.
What has the reaction been?
The General secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders commented on how the rise in fees could deter disadvantaged students from applying to university. He said to inews: “We would be extremely concerned about any big rise in university tuition fees, particularly in terms of disadvantaged young people and the potential to deter them from applying for university courses.”
Although there are student loans in place, Barton warned: “the prospect of a huge financial commitment is especially likely to be off-putting for students from households in relative poverty”.
“It needs to be remembered that this is only one part of the cost of university and that there can also be significant maintenance costs for food, accommodation and bills, and at least some of these costs are likely to rise because of the cost-of-living crisis. Now really isn’t the time to be talking about huge increases to tuition fees.”
Professor Sir Chris Husbands, vice-chancellor of Sheffield Hallam Unisirty said: There are high-tariff universities [which ask for very high A-level grades] pulling back from the UK market because they can charge higher prices in international markets. There is an urgent need to look at UK student funding.”
However, a Department for Education spokesman said that it is a myth offering places to international students takes away from a student in the UK. They said: “The student finance system must be fair for students, universities and the taxpayer, and it is right that we have frozen tuition fees to reduce the burden of debt on graduates. To support universities, we’re providing £750 million extra funding over the next three years.
“It is a myth that offering a place to an international student takes a place away from a student in the UK. They actually support the creation of more places for domestic students.”
How many people are staying in the UK for their degree?
According to official figures, one in five young undergraduates starting at top universities this autumn are from overseas, which is up 7% in a year. The number of British undergraduates has declined by 13%.
It is said that UK students account for 84.3% of the undergraduate population.
However, according to Ucas, the university admissions service, over 20,000 A-Level students did not have a university place on results day (18 August).
The 20,360 total was up 46% from the 13,930 students from last year, but down from the 24,260 in 2019.
In total, 425,830 students have been accepted on to degree courses this year.