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Government has created mess over university fees says union as Exeter announces plans for £9,000 fees

2 March 2011 | last updated: 11 December 2015

UCU said today that the universities minister, David Willetts's attempts to encourage universities to limit fees to around £6,000 for arts and humanities courses showed that he had lost touch with what is happening in universities.

UCU today said that the government's university funding policies had created a sorry mess that would see universities forced to charge high fees.
As the University of Exeter announced plans to join Cambridge, Oxford and Imperial in charging the full £9,000 a year fee from 2012, the union said the government should brace itself for more universities following suit.
UCU has calculated that universities will have to charge an average of £6,863 fee to recoup money the government has removed from teaching budgets. The union said its analysis made a mockery of government claims that some universities need not charge more than £6,000 a year.
UCU said the government appeared to be ignoring the fact that, on top of punitive budget cuts, universities are reeling from new restrictions on overseas students and cuts to research funding. The union said it also believed many institutions would opt for the higher fee to ensure they did not lose prestige.
The union's findings reveal that every single English institution with undergraduates would have to charge more than £6,000 a year just to plug the funding gap created by huge cuts to teaching budgets. The full UCU analysis can be found at: Universities will have to charge £7,000 annual fees just to break even
Exeter's announcement comes on the same day that over 600 Oxbridge academics have written to the universities minister, David Willetts, warning him that universities are being forced to 'fly blind' over the new fees regime. UCU added that the country was entering uncharted territory as universities attempted to deal with devastating cuts and operate in a market place, while students had to consider university without knowing the full cost.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'The government's fee regime is in complete disarray and its sums simply do not add up. All English universities will have to charge more than £6,000 just to break even following devastating funding cuts. Many institutions, like Exeter, will be worried about their reputation if they charge less than £9,000. The government has to look again at its disastrous decision to cut university teaching budgets.'