The university has followed the lead of London Metropolitan University, which said last month that it planned to charge a range of fees, with an average between £6,000 and £7,000.
Coventry University has also announced variable fees ranging from £7,500 to £9,000.
Most universities that have made an announcement about their fee levels intend to charge fixed rates considerably higher than the £7,500 average for which the government has budgeted. Prior to Derby’s announcement, the average fee among those that have set out their plans, and before waivers are taken into account, was more than £8,700.
In a statement, Derby says a “student-centred philosophy and prudent financial management” has put it in a strong position.
Last year, the university made an operating surplus of £10 million and expects to do so again this year.
It says its tuition fees will reflect “the true cost and individual characteristics of courses”. Around 20 per cent of courses have been deemed “specialist” courses because they include “additional experiences” such as foreign field trips. Fees for these will be £7,995 a year.
“Resource intensive” courses, requiring specialist facilities on campus, will cost £7,495. An equal number of “classroom-based” courses will cost £6,995.
The university also reserves the right to introduce a £9,000 “premium category” – “should circumstances warrant it” – for courses that are “very distinctive, high cost and unique to Derby”.
John Coyne, vice-chancellor, said Derby’s emphasis on “meaningful contact hours, access to tutors and relatively small class sizes” would remain.
“We don’t rest on our laurels or historic reputation and notion of status. That is old thinking. Our decision is based on pricing not posturing, fairness not folly,” he said.
The fee levels were set in consultation with the University of Derby Students’ Union. Caleb Jackson, its president, said: “We recognise the need to ensure that the university can continue to generate the funds necessary to reinvest in improving all aspects of life for our students. We are on the up as a university and our students deserve the best.”
• For a full list of the universities that have announced their tuition fee plans for 2012, see: www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/feescounter