Introducing top-up fees could cost UK higher education millions of pounds in lost income from European Union students, the British Council has warned, writes Tony Tysome.
The council is worried that large numbers of students from the EU will opt to study elsewhere rather than pay annual fees of up to £3,000 in the UK.
It is planning to call a meeting with representatives from the Department for Education and Skills, the EU and British Council offices around Europe to consider the implications and what can be done to maintain the UK's position in the European student recruitment market.
About 40 per cent of the 235,000 overseas students in UK higher education come from EU countries. The British Council estimates that the overseas recruitment market is worth about £2.5 billion a year to UK institutions.
Neil Kemp, British Council head of promotions, said top-up fees would be seen as a barrier by many EU students. "Suddenly UK institutions will be charging up to £3,000 a year while in other European countries tuition is more or less free."
EU intake and fees