All but three English higher education institutions are to charge tuition fees of £9,250 for at least some of their courses under the first year of the teaching excellence framework (TEF).
The announcement follows the publication of the final list of providers that are eligible to increase their fees in line with inflation under year one of the TEF, having passed Quality Assurance Agency review.
It means that the average tuition fee at English higher education institutions will increase to £9,110 in 2017-18, up from £8,905 this year.
Only two of the 123 providers that charge higher fees will not charge £9,250 for at least some of their programmes: University College Birmingham, where courses will cost up to £9,076; and the University of St Mark and St John, which is capping prices at £9,000. Heythrop College does not charge higher-level fees.
The new fee levels will apply to all new undergraduates and, while the University of Exeter has said that it will also apply the increase to continuing students, the Department for Education has said that institutions will be allowed to do this only if they had notified applicants whether fees would increase in future years, and by how much, before they signed a course agreement.
Les Ebdon, the director of fair access to higher education, said that it was “not a surprise” to see universities increasing fees, after a five-year freeze at £9,000.
He said that the impact on access was “difficult to predict” but added: “We have seen much bigger hikes than the one we are taking here without making a difference so one has some optimism.”
Professor Ebdon highlighted that increased fee income meant that the amount being spent by universities and colleges on outreach, retention and student success was projected to reach £833.5 million under the 2017-18 access agreements, up 10.3 per cent year-on-year.
However, Offa’s analysis indicates that higher education providers have some way to go to refocus their activities on the government’s new policy priorities.
Only 10.9 per cent of universities and colleges have set a target relating to access for white working-class boys, although four out of these five targets were new for 2017-18; while 22.3 per cent of institutions have a target relating to ethnic minority under-attainment, with one in three of these being new.
Of 123 access agreements submitted by universities and approved by Professor Ebdon, 82 (66.6 per cent) required negotiation before they were signed off.