Vice-chancellors see a pay-your-way future as desirable, but students' opposition remains strong

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

Bernadette Porter, rector of the University of Surrey Roehampton, believes that top-up fees, with courses priced according to the cost of delivery, are a must for her institution to become a leading university in its own right, writes Alan Thomson.

She wants Roehampton to charge £3,000 for the costly lab-based subjects it teaches, including dance and media-related studies, and £2,000 for classroom-based courses such as English.

This will raise income to maintain quality, although discounting some courses will give Roehampton less than the £14 million it would get from charging each student £3,000, Dr Porter said. She wants a third of the extra income to fund bursaries for poor students.

The decision to charge top-ups from 2006 is vital to Dr Porter's vision for Roehampton. The institution, which already has degrees and research degree-awarding powers, has just commissioned a study on seeking full university status. Roehampton is federated to the University of Surrey. Dr Porter hopes that with university status it can become an autonomous and equal partner in the federation.

Dr Porter said: "Our lab-based subjects are in areas such as drama and media studies, which are very popular. It is market-led, but we would make the justification that this is about contributing to the real costs of students' education."

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