Offa deadline triggers a volley of fee declarations

A flurry of tuition fee announcements have been made as the deadline approaches for universities to submit draft access agreements to the Office for Fair Access.

April 19, 2011

Any institution that wants to charge more than £6,000 in 2012-13 will have to agree their plans with Offa. Draft agreements are due in by the end of today.

Bournemouth University announced this morning that it would charge variable fees, with around 90 per cent of its courses costing £8,200 a year.

A small number of “flagship” courses, in areas such as tourism and journalism, will have fees set at the £9,000 maximum.

The University of Brighton intends to charge fees of £9,000 for all its undergraduate courses. Julian Crampton, its vice-chancellor, said that charging the maximum was necessary to “continue to provide the high-quality professional and socially and economically relevant degree courses for which Brighton is renowned”.

The University of Hull has also opted for a flat-rate fee of £9,000, saying that it had “given careful thought to the package of support we are offering to our students”.

“No student should feel that an undergraduate experience at Hull, irrespective of their background or financial situation, is beyond their grasp,” the university said.

The University of Lincoln also declared its intentions, joining Hull and Brighton in opting for a £9,000 fee. It says in a statement that there will be a “strong package of support for students starting in 2012, including scholarships and bursaries, as well as support from a number of employers such as Siemens”.

Sheffield Hallam University is proposing to set a tuition fee of £8,500, as is York St John University, which promised a “comprehensive package of fee waivers, bursaries and scholarships”. Leeds Trinity University College plans to charge £8,000, while Salford University will charge between £8,000 and £9,000, depending on the course.

All of the proposed fees are subject to approval by Offa, which will consider the draft access agreements and publish its conclusions in the summer.

Around three-quarters of all universities to have declared their position on fees have now opted for £9,000, with most of those offering lower fees asking for an average close to the maximum.

However, David Willetts, the universities and science minister, has insisted that the “sticker price” is misleading, and that fee waivers and bursaries will make the average fee much lower.

Mr Willetts had previously suggested that universities would be able to charge fees of £9,000 only in “exceptional circumstances”.

john.gill@tsleducation.com

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