Twenty seven ask to cut fees to allow expansion

A total of 27 universities and colleges have applied to lower their tuition fees in 2012-13 so they can compete for some of the 20,000 cut-price places being created by the government.

November 7, 2011

The figure – around a fifth of all higher education institutions in England – means that all but one of the universities known to have expressed an interest in lowering fees put in a formal bid to revise their access agreements.

Each application will now be assessed by the Office for Fair Access and approved or rejected by the end of the month.

Institutions that receive approval will then have to contact students that have already applied to courses to let them know how their financial package has changed.

The chance to revise access agreements so average fees are lowered – which can be achieved either by dropping a headline charge or by offering more for poorer students – followed an announcement on student number controls by funding chiefs last month.

Universities had until 4 November to submit a revised agreement.

Lower fees will allow more institutions to bid for 20,000 places available under the “core and margin” scheme, which is open to universities and colleges with an average charge – after fee waivers – of £7,500 or less.

Those charging above this threshold will have their “core” student numbers reduced by around 9 per cent, although they will be able to recruit as many students scoring AAB or better at A level as they wish.

A spokeswoman for Offa said it had also received new access agreements from seven publicly-funded further education colleges that wish to bid for places from the margin, but which did not already have an access agreement.

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