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Minister needs to signal rethink on university fees 'debacle'

25 February 2011

UCU said today that the government must rethink plans to axe 80% of university teaching budgets as it struggles to find a way to restrict the level of fees some universities can charge.

The union's comments come as the universities minister, David Willetts, is expected to set out guidelines for universities to follow to if they wish to charge higher fees. Ministers were embarrassed recently when the head of the access regulator, Sir Martin Harris, said that the regulator, OFFA, could not legally enforce a fee level for a university.
The union said that students would face increased class sizes and a drop in quality at a time when they were expected to pay up to three times as much to study for a degree. The government's decision to axe 80% of the teaching budget - including the entire teaching budget for arts and humanities - means universities will need to charge an average fee of close to £7,000 just to recoup lost funding.
Many newer universities who focus mainly on arts and humanities will have to charge even higher fees. The union said if the government wanted those universities to charge lower fees it had to rethink plans to slash all their teaching funding.
More on the fees universities will have to charge to recoup axed funding can be found at: Universities will have to charge £7,000 annual fees just to break even

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'The situation around university fees is a complete debacle at the moment. Universities are essentially being told they cannot charge the fee they need to recoup money that government has cut, but at the same time that they must offer a better experience because students are paying higher fees.
'Such a move will see even bigger class sizes and an inevitable drop in the whole university experience for students. The government needs to review its plans to slash so much of the teaching budget. It is utterly ludicrous to expect universities to offer more for less and even more ridiculous to encourage students to complain at a time when it is clear they are getting a raw deal.'

Last updated: 11 December 2015