Tuition fees are going to be reduced, but only for certain courses
It’s part of a new ‘value for money’ deal laid out by the government
The Education Secretary, Damien Hinds, has laid out new plans for universities to reduce tuition fees for arts and social science courses, since these "do little to boost careers".
This is part of a new "value for money" deal, which the government is set to launch alongside it's review of university finances, due to be unveiled tomorrow.
Other major changes could include:
– Interest rates on student loans being slashed.
– An increase in salary level at which students repay their loans.
– A decrease in the number of years graduates are expected to repay their loan for.
The arts subjects have been heavily expanded over the last few years, since they are the cheapest to run and make the most money. Unsurprisingly, universities are opposed to the proposed fee reductions.
Joe Mcmanus, final year history student at Warwick, told The Tab it's "nice to see that fees are finally representative of contact hours."
Alistair Jarvis, the chief executive of Universities UK, said: “A fees cut would grab the headlines but leave a funding gap. Unless government replaced the money, it would mean bigger class sizes, poorer facilities and less student choice.”
The new plans will also mean that universities will have to increase their offerings of other degree types, including:
– Two-year degrees.
– Sandwich courses, where students typically spend a year working in industry.
– "Commuter courses", where students live at home in order to save money.
Recent Maths graduate Angus Hamill said: "On the one hand, I think tuition fees can be seen as a barrier to entry for more 'passion' based degrees.
"On the other hand, we don't want to discourage people from important careers in science and engineering. So if they were going to have higher fees I'd like to see more sponsorships, bursaries etc."
Of the other three proposals, Hamill said that it's "awesome" that the interest rates could be reduced, as at present they "are basically criminal".
He added "It's about time the Tories realised it's a ticking time bomb of debt and no one can actually pay it back."
The proposed changes to the university system are believed to be the Tory's response to Labour's pledge to cut student tuition fees and address the "unsustainable" levels of student debt.
Hannah Reilly, a medical student at UEA told The Tab: "Reduced fees should be introduced across the board, not just for arts and social sciences students.
"Our fees should not reflect the cost of the resources we use at university, this takes away the principle of equal opportunity for all. Talented students from less privileged backgrounds will be less likely to study science in the future, leading to less diversity among the sciences."
This news coincides with The Commons Treasury select committee today announcing their censure of "punitive" interest rates on student fees and loans. They also called for the return of maintenance grants.