Wales shields its students from higher fees

Students from Wales will be spared additional costs of higher education wherever they study in the UK despite confirmation that Welsh universities will be allowed to charge tuition fees of £9,000 a year to students from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

December 1, 2010

Leighton Andrews, the Welsh education minister, said on 30 November that basic tuition fees will rise to £6,000 a year from 2012-13 in parallel with proposals for England, while institutions will be able to charge up to £9,000 if they meet widening access targets. However, students from Wales will not be expected to pay more – the Assembly government will cover the extra costs even if they study in another part of the UK.

The government will provide a tuition-fee grant or waiver to cover the additional costs, which will be paid direct to the university.

Students will not be asked to repay the cash, and they will still be eligible for loans to meet the cost of the remaining fee (currently £3,290).

As with the proposals for England, the repayment threshold for student loans will rise from £15,000 to £21,000, Mr Andrews said, and part-time students will be able to access a tuition-fee loan depending on the “level of intensity” of their degree course.

The new arrangements were “fair, equitable and sustainable”, Mr Andrews said.

“We do not support full-cost or near full-cost fees. We do not believe that higher education should be organised on the basis of a market.”

He said: “We have a responsibility to Welsh-domiciled students wherever they choose to study…higher education should be on the basis of the individual’s potential to benefit, and not on the basis of what they can afford to pay.”

The minister said the policy demonstrated the benefits of devolved government. “We are preserving the principle that the state will subsidise higher education and maintain opportunities for all,” he added.

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