Pay-your-way future: Nottingham

October 17, 2003

With nearly every university set to introduce some form of top-up fees from 2006, THES reporters take a look at who is planning to charge what and why

No one will be surprised to find Nottingham University at the front of the queue of institutions planning to charge top-up fees, writes Tony Tysome.

Its vice-chancellor, Sir Colin Campbell, has been an outspoken champion of the idea since the Russell Group commissioned a report on the benefits of differential charges three years ago.

Equally unsurprising is the opposition to the idea from the Nottingham University students' union. Its president, Russ Davidson, is adamant that higher fees will mean fewer students from lower social classes, despite Nottingham's plan to invest up to half the top-up fees income in bursaries and scholarships. "Nottingham will not struggle to fill places, but it is doubtful that it will continue to attract students who are not so well-off," he said.

About 70 per cent of the university's 13,657 home first-degree undergraduates come from state schools, with about 14 per cent from lower social classes and 7 per cent from low-participation areas.

The fact that 33 of Nottingham's disciplines have received an excellent rating for teaching may have something to do with its popularity. It gets nearly ten applications for each place on offer, so it can afford to be choosy about who it admits.

In spite of a disappointing showing in the last research assessments, the university's appeal will be bolstered by its most recent investments - including up to £90 million for 20 new research chairs plus supporting research staff and infrastructure, £10 million for a new medical school, and £7 million for a biomedical science building.

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