Cambridge? That’ll Be 9 Grand Please

A report published on the University’s internal website has recommended charging students £9,000 a year tuition fees.

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Cambridge looks set to become one of the first universities to charge students the maximum tuition fee of £9,000 a year.

The Uni released a report containing the proposal for consultation on the Internal University Website.

The report was produced by a working party of academic, college and student representatives, who claim that charging anything less than the full £9,000 would be fiscally irresponsible” and could jeopardize the university’s reputation.

They recommend raising fees to almost triple the current sum, but with a possible reduction of £3000 for poorer students who will also receive a bursary of up to £1,625.

This will ensure “the cost of tuition fees for low-income students is no higher than at any other mainstream university,” the report claims.

The Uni were keen to stress that these were simply provisional suggestions. A University Spokesperson said: “This report has been published online for consultation.

“The report and the responses to the consultation will help the University’s Council decide what arrangements it wishes to propose for the fees, financial support for students and access provisions to OFFA by its deadline of 31 March.”

Universities Minister David Willetts originally claimed the £9,000 top limit would only apply in “exceptional circumstances.”

Cambridge argued that “most if not all of our peers will charge the maximum fee.”

If this proves true, many fear that students from poorer backgrounds will be put off from applying to university.

Music student Matthew Benton, in his first year, said: “If fees had been £9,000 when I had applied it definitely would’ve made me think twice.”

The issue of access to higher education has taken centre stage in recent months. Even Nick Clegg, who was in part behind the new policies, will warn Vice- Chancellors that universities have become “the instruments of social segregation,” The Guardian reported today.

The report also recommends not increasing the budget for equal access despite the increase in fees.

Equal access will have to be a hot topic on the Cambridge authorities’ agenda if they want OFFA (the government access watchdog, Office for Fair Access) to let them charge the maximum fees.

OFFA will oversee access agreements for any universities charging more than £6,000 for tuition, and if the unis fail to meet their access targets then they could be fined up to £500,000.

Despite this, the working party’s report claims that there is no alternative for Cambridge. Even with the increased fees, education cuts mean that the university is “carrying the burden of a significant loss per student.”

The full impact of the cuts won’t be known until next month, when universities will find out what funding they will have for the next academic year. But, as a whole their budget will be reduced by £1 billion.