The abolition of an upper limit on fees for resident students will hurt many Universities as the less well off opt out of higher education.
Universities will become even more dependent on foreign students who already pay full fees.
Universities in England should be able to charge unlimited fees, a major review of university funding has recommended, the BBC reports.
Lord Browne’s review calls for the £3,290 cap on fees, which students borrow in loans, to be scrapped.
Instead it proposes a free market in fees – setting out models of charges up to £12,000 a year for a degree course.
The UCU lecturers’ union said the plan was “the final nail in the coffin for affordable higher education”.
However, Lord Browne’s review makes clear that universities that charge more than £6,000 a year would lose a proportion of the fee to help cover the cost of student borrowing.
Lord Browne told BBC Breakfast: “We have taken off the cap but we haven’t taken off the restrictions.”
He said all universities were different and needed different amounts of money to retain their world class status, but he predicted that few would put fees very high.
Lord Browne proposes that the government would guarantee to underwrite fees up to £6,000 per year – but universities would be allowed to charge any amount above that.
Universities would have to pay an increasing “levy” on fees above £6,000 – but even when charging £12,000, they would be able to keep almost three quarters of the fee.
As now, students would not have to pay fees up-front, but would receive a loan.
But they would not have to start repaying it until their earnings reached £21,000 per year, up from the current level of £15,000.
More private universities
There are also suggestions for a more diverse university system, which would encourage the introduction of new providers and different ways of studying.
Part-time students and those studying in private universities would be able to claim student support.
The Open University welcomed the report as a “landmark day for part-time higher education” – which would help to drive social mobility.
Paul Marshall, head of the 1994 Group of research-intensive universities, welcomed the review as “the first progressive step” towards increasing funding for universities and “targeting student support more effectively at those in most need”.
But the Million+ group of new universities said it would deter poorer students.
“Fees at this level – even if they are backed by state-funded fee loans – will undoubtedly mean that some students who would have gone to university will decide not to go,” said chief executive, Pam Tatlow.
The National Union of Students said students would be left with “crippling levels of debt and many universities face utter devastation as a result of horrific cuts”. Source BBC.
Non-EU overseas students already pay the full going rate for degree courses in the UK. These proposals will mean UK resident students paying similar fees for their degrees, which is a radical change.
Spending cuts are the main driving force behind the proposed changes as the country can no longer afford the current level of subsidised higher education.
Top Universities argue that the removal of the limit is necessary to ensure that British Universities remain in the world top league.
Four of the nine Nobel Prizes in one category went to British Universities and this year Cambridge jumped ahead of Harvard to take first place in the world league table of universities.
Many of the less popular Universities, which already depend on overseas students to survive, may struggle as home student numbers fall.
Four British Universities Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial College and UCL, appeared in the top ten, proving that the UK is still a leading force in international education.
Cambridge University, like Oxford, comprises of a number of ‘colleges’ within the city. Potential students should be aware of similar named colleges using ‘Oxford’ or ‘Cambridge’ in their titles which are not part of these ancient institutions.
Private education providers already compete with public sector colleges usually offering cheaper and more flexible learning options, whilst at the same time giving students a higher ratio of face to face teaching time.
Overseas students are worth £8.3 billion to the UK’s economy and their fees are vital to the education sector.
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