Government fears cost as universities charge £9k

18 Mar 2011

 The University of Surrey has become the latest institution to announce its intention to charge undergraduate fees of £9,000 from 2012. This follows a similar decision from the University of Durham earlier this week.

 Surrey and Durham now join the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College, and Exeter in going for the maximum fee possible under the new arrangements. No university has so far indicated it intends to charge a lower fee.

Surrey says its decision was influenced by having a cut of 60% in its annual teaching grant from government and a further 70% in its capital teaching grant.

Meanwhile there are growing indications that the government is now concerned that it may be forced to claw-back more money from universities if the majority of institutions charge maximum fees. All the Treasury's calculations are based on an average fee level of £7,500. Fees above this level mean an extra cost for government in the form of higher tuition fee loans to students.

In a recent speech, David Willetts indicated the government may have to make 'offsetting reductions' in the remaining government grant if average fee levels exceed £7,500.

There are also growing fears that the government may use the delayed White Paper on university funding to limit costs in other ways, such as limiting student numbers or redistributing students to cheaper FE Colleges or private providers. I have written more on this for my weekly column for  BBC News Online (the article will appear on Saturday morning at


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