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Higher fees in this parliament?

Nov 23 2002 01:46
Mustafa Arif
Politicians agree that the government does not need a change in the law to bring in top-up fees ? or general fee rises.
Degrees could soon cost much more without requiring a change in the law.

Following earlier reports that the government is considering "early" legislation in this parliament to enable top-up fees in the next one, a new twist has emerged. Legislation is unlikely because everyone now suddenly agrees that a change in the law is not required.

The Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998 allows the government to vary the level of tuition fees. While the Department for Education and Skills would not comment on the provisions of the Act, it is understood that existing legislation permits them to introduce differential fees (the practice of charging varying amounts for courses and/or institutions). Any changes in fee levels proposed by the Secretary of State for Education would have need to be approved by Parliament ? however it would not need to go to either House as the decision could be made in Parliamentary committees.

Both the Conservative education spokesman, Damian Green, and his Liberal Democrat counter-part, Phil Willis agreed that the government would not need new legislation to bring in top-up fees.

The government pledged in its manifesto at the last election that they would not introduce top-up or differential fees. While they have conveniently decided to interpret that as meaning for "this Parliament only" they seem to be committed to their manifesto pledge until the next election. However, there seems to be a worryingly increasing expectation that the government will be increasing the standard level of tuition fee (currently £1100) in the New Year, following publication of the much-delayed White Paper on higher education "student support." Mr Willis told journalists he expected fees to be increased in this Parliament because if the government waited to address the funding crisis it would "go into the next ? election in an almighty mess."

Of course, any significant fee increase could permit less academically elite institutions from charging a discounted fee, as a few ?new? universities already do to attract students to certain courses. This could effectively introduce top-up or differential fees by the back door.

Mr Willis remarked that "there are lots of other ways that the government can skin students and their parents in the current framework and people should not be so naive to think the only issue in town is top-up fees."

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Discussion about “Higher fees in this parliament?”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Nov 23 2002 13:01

So will the Student Loan be increased if higher fees are charged? My loan barely covers my accomodation in halls and tutition fees as it is.

2. aqeel   
Nov 23 2002 14:06

Student Loans are not intended to assist students in paying fees. They are for living expenses. I don't expect student loan amounts to be increased (certainly not by the same level as potential fee increases). However, it would seem that some system of borrowing would have to be implemented in order that people be able to pay higher fees - whether this is based on a principle of student contribution or parental contribution is as yet uncertain. I would suggest that whilst the thought of leaving university with ?30k plus debt is likely to have a serious effect on applications, the notion of your parents having to borrow that sum might not be quite so dramatic.

Nov 23 2002 17:24

the best bit of it is that (correct me if i am wrong)... setting fee's will fall under the juristiction of a commitee. It is possible for the gvmt to set fees without even tabling it for discussion ih commons. nice.

4. Oli   
Nov 23 2002 19:16

Also, if fees are increased, but under the existing system, then they will apply to those already in higher education, not just new applicants.

Nov 24 2002 10:51


Society as a whole... the Individual... Employers... the Future...

Personally, I agree with increasing the cap on tuition fees to about ?2500 (poorer students would be subsidised accordingly, as is presently the case), with the government funding the remaining shortfall in the short/medium term; IN ADDITION to a differential graduate tax (towards which employers contribute partly), yielding more than adequate funds for the longer term -but where a graduate tax is progressively accompanied by a reduction in income tax. Eventually, as revenue accumulates, a graduate tax would provide 'excess' funding. This should always be countered by a reduction in income tax, or the system would be inequitable.

The current level of government funding of higher education through direct taxation (?7500 per student) should remain unaffected -thus satisfying the logic that society as a whole benefits.

But, as the proportion of graduates in society increases, it is only right that they contribute directly, and to a greater degree than 'the dustman' (graduate tax, but also lower income tax).

Nov 24 2002 20:06

The Sunday Times has an interesting piece on fees today. Top-up fees vs. graduate tax...

Nov 26 2002 20:30

Charles Kennedy is at ULU on Tuesday 3rd December, 6 30pm room 101.

God opportunity to challenge the lib dems on their policies.

Nov 27 2002 09:34

Have to ask CK if he wants a whisky and a fag too...

I assume he isn't in Room 101 bopping or being permanently put in Room 101... is he giving a speech and taking questions properly or is he just mincing around with other lib dems?

No doubt he would say that everyone should go into HE and that the state should pay for that entirely, including grants... but then, as we know, there is HE and then there is "HE" with its ropey courses and worthless degrees... should we pay for that?

9. adam   
Nov 28 2002 12:11

as long as you're paying Rob! Not that the other two parties have anything better to offer.

Nov 29 2002 16:33

The do at Portculis House hosted by ULU/David Rendell was quite eye-opening.

Lets hope that CK is going to good too on Tuesday. The other two parties, to my understanding are: Labour - no policy in this parliament; Conservatives - all options being looked at, but no support for dereg fees.

11. Adam   
Dec 02 2002 10:40

Do give a debrief, I wasn't able to make it due to being a student.

Closed This discussion is closed.

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See Also

  1. Top-up Fees; what next?
    17 Nov 02 | News
  2. Cambridge breaks ranks on fees
    14 Nov 02 | News
  3. Yes 2 Fees
    13 Nov 02 | Prince Albert

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