Russell Group backs Oxford v-c on fee cap

The Russell Group has backed the University of Oxford vice-chancellor after he urged the government to allow a rise in tuition fees.

October 9, 2013

Andrew Hamilton said yesterday that the “real cost” of an Oxford education was £16,000 a year and fees should be “more closely related” to that cost.

The fee cap has been set at £9,000 since 2012-13. The government has not allowed any increase to account for inflation and, earlier this year, again fixed the cap at £9,000 for 2014-15.

Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group, said: “Professor Hamilton is right to highlight the problem of the cap on tuition fees. Increased income from fees in England has largely offset significant government cuts to public teaching grants. Fees should certainly increase with inflation in 2014-15.

“It is important to remember that there are no up-front fees, repayments are only made when they’re affordable and Russell Group universities provide lots of bursaries and fee reductions for students in need.

“Our leading institutions cannot continue to be internationally competitive, provide a first-rate teaching experience and offer generous support to disadvantaged students without access to increased funding.”

David Eastwood, the Russell Group chair and University of Birmingham vice-chancellor, warned earlier this year that the £9,000 fee cap “will constrain quality”. He said the cap would probably be frozen at that level until 2017, equating to a 16 per cent cut in tuition income for universities.

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Reader's comments (2)

It should be absolutely clear to many what the real agenda of Andrew Hamilton, David Eastwood and Wendy Piatt is, and how they are all prepared to sell students down the river in order to cream off more money. The hollowness of any pretence that these people care one iota about social mobility, or about higher education as public provision and a right, rather than a commodity, should be clear for all to see now. All decent-thinking people at Oxford University, Birmingham University or any Russell Group institution should be publicly calling for the resignation of all these three individuals. Otherwise we are going to drift into a £16K fees era, and the biggest lobbyists for it will be these people whose very presence in higher education is a disgrace.
Presumably the relatively low staff/student ratio in the Russell Group in paricular forms the bulk of these teaching costs, in practice partly used to subsidise the unfunded high costs of generating research income, and developing, publishing, and presenting the scholarly papers needed to maintain (and improve) university league tables standing. It is also likely that the research income itself partly subsidises the teaching and learning element (10 hours per module credit).

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