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University Chief says £9,000 student fees are too low.

University Chief says £9,000 student fees are too low.

Ahead of the Government’s overhaul of university funding a university chief has said tuition fees should increase.
According to Dr Tim Bradshaw, the chief executive of the Russell Group which represents the country’s 24 most prestigious institutions, courses are being run at a loss and the £9,250 per year that students are currently charged is no longer sufficient.

Philip Augar, who led an official review of higher education last year which recommended that tuition fees should be capped at £7,500, has since backtracked on the idea claiming that pandemic-caused disruption would mean that such a fee cut would be “too destabilising” for the university and higher education sector.

Currently Universities receive funds through from an annual teaching grant where the Government allocates extra money for “high cost” subjects, as well as tuition fees. Dr Bradshaw said that degrees in subjects such as physics, chemistry, and engineering cost an extra £1,750 per student per year on top of tuition fees. “Something that has changed recently is that even the social sciences are being taught at a deficit, so there is no flexibility, ” he said whilst further explaining that degrees in subjects such as archaeology and history are now being run at a £700 loss per student per year.

“We need overall sustainable funding and a cast iron guarantee that the funding per student isn’t going to fall and ideally that the [teaching] grant plus fees increases because of the deficits that we are currently facing,” stated Dr Bradshaw. He further commented that, “Universities are having to invest a huge amount more in their Covid response – digital learning, mental health and other things.”

Earlier this year, a plea by universities for a £2 billion bailout was rejected by the Government. The Education Secretary instead announced in May that universities would be able to access £100 million of research funding, as well as £2.6 billion of tuition fees, months earlier than they would otherwise have been able to.
Following the Government’s August U-turn on A-level results universities lobbied ministers for an additional £20 million as part of a deal to ensure that places could be found.

A spokesman for the Government said, “We understand this has been a challenging time which is why we have introduced a package of measures to stabilise the sector, help universities manage their finances, and safeguard students. We are considering the recommendations of the Augar report as part of the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding, and plan to respond at the Comprehensive Spending Review.”

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