NUS wants more light on hidden expenses

April 9, 1999

Students have called for a tighter definition of fees to stop institutions charging hidden course costs.

While the National Union of Students welcomes section 28 of the Teaching and Higher Education Act for ruling out top-up fees, it wants to ensure that this section of the act will also be used to rule out differential fees and hidden course costs.

A recent NUS consultation on top-up fees, which asked student union officers to identify extra course costs, found students were being charged for printing, photocopying, art materials, information technology, lab equipment, compulsory field trips and year abroad costs.

In more than 80 per cent of cases students had not been informed of these extra costs before coming to the institution.

A 1996 survey by the NUS found that the average student had to pay Pounds 571.35 a year for hidden course costs. Travel was the highest hidden cost: Pounds 178.94 a year for an average student.

The full cost of a course should be made clear in every institution's prospectus, in rough figures if necessary, and institutions should remind students of the costs when they write to students to confirm their acceptance of a place.

The NUS also welcomes the government's intention to prevent colleges charging tuition fees to 16 to 18-year-olds in full-time education but urges it to extend this policy to cover those studying part-time.

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