MPs back £11K fees for two-year degrees in England

Minister hails move as ‘milestone for students’

January 23, 2019

Legislation to raise the annual tuition fee cap for two-year degrees to £11,100 in England has been passed by MPs, a move billed by the universities minister as a “modern-day milestone for students”.

The secondary legislation – which would see the new cap apply for courses starting in autumn this year – will now go to the House of Lords for approval.

Although Labour MPs voted against – the party’s policy is to abolish tuition fees entirely – opposition parties did not muster the numbers to defeat the legislation.

The Democratic Unionist Party’s 10 MPs joined the Conservatives in supporting the legislation. But the Scottish National Party’s MPs did not vote, while only two out of 11 Liberal Democrat MPs voted (both against).

The Department for Education said that graduates of two-year courses “would save 20 per cent on tuition fees compared to traditional courses. For example, students who opt for a two-year degree will save at least £5,500 in total tuition costs compared to a standard three-year course.”

Students will also “benefit from a year without paying any maintenance costs through an accelerated course, which would allow them to access the workforce quicker”, the DfE said.

Given that tuition fees are repaid by graduates contingent on their salary and that outstanding balances are written off after 30 years, it is impossible to predict whether a particular individual graduate would accrue savings in practice.

But the move will reduce the government’s loan outlay.

The DfE said that “accelerated degrees have been a key part of the government’s ambition to maximise choice and flexibility for people wanting to study in higher education, and are expected to remove barriers for a number of under-represented groups, including mature students”.

Chris Skidmore, the universities minister, said: “The passing of this legislation is one of the great modern-day milestones for students and breaks the mould of a one-size-fits-all system for people wanting to study in higher education.

“For thousands of future students wanting a faster pace of learning and a faster route into the workplace at a lower overall cost, two-year degrees will transform their choices.”

john.morgan@timeshighereducation.com

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