Exeter Uni Vice Chancellor says tuition fees will not change next year

“The answer is no, the Government is not going to change that.”

Sir Steve Smith, Vice Chancellor at the University of Exeter has told the BBC that there will be no changes to tuition fees for the next academic year, despite likely changes to the student experience both academically and socially.

Speaking on BBC News on Friday, Smith outlined how the University has plans in place to keep students as safe as possible next term. These include one way systems through buildings, segregated social spaces and online lectures.

He went on to say that these changes will not result in a reduction in tuition fees.

The Vice Chancellor said: “We are all in the same boat – we don’t quite know what the autumn will bring. At Exeter, we are planning to restart on time in September. Of course, as you would expect, we have contingency plans if we can’t do that.

“The key thing to think about is university is not just the lectures, it is also the social life, the learning you do with your colleagues, the overall experience. You can be rest assured that every university in the county is going to try and make certain that students that come in the autumn are protected, are supported and have a very good experience.”

Sir Steve went on to explain how if the Autumn term does start as scheduled efforts will be made to ensure social distancing can be maintained.

“There are limits to what we can do but we have planned how to have one-way systems through buildings, sanitisers everywhere, social spaces segregated in different ways and have lectures separated. We understand completely it is a stressful time and this generation have had a difficult time because of this crisis.”

Despite student protests, UK and EU students in England are still set to pay full tuition fees of up to £9,250, even though libraries, sports centres and other physical resources are likely to be unavailable.

When questioned on whether tuition fees could be lowered in light of a reduced student experience, the Vice Chancellor said: “The answer is no. the Government is not going to change that.

He added: “What you will find is that every university in the country is currently working on how to deliver high-quality lectures – they are the problem – online because you can’t put many people in a lecture theatre. Laboratories, library work, seminars and tutorials will be done in person in most universities so I don’t think we should worry about that.”