VP Academic Affairs, Rob Stanning, has said that the Students’ Union will stand firm against any rise in tuition fees.
This news comes ahead of the outcome of the Browne review, due next month, which is thought to be likely to recommend removing the cap on tuition fees.
Any recommendations from the review will not necessarily be passed by the government, but may ingnite the investigation into the funding of Higher Education.
Currently, the government makes an enormous contribution to higher education. UK and EU students studying in England currently pay ‘top-up’ fees capped at £3,290. If the government was to remove this cap, Universities may able to charge significantly higher amounts for courses.
“The Union is against any rise in fees” Rob Stanning
University applications are at a record high with an increase of 16.5% on last year, but it thought the removal of the cap could put students off attending university. A survey by HSBC and NUS found that 70% of students would reconsider university if the cap on fees was removed.
Union officers are obligated to oppose any rise in tuition fees, after a motion was passed at Union Council last year.
“It’s not just that students don’t want to pay higher fees: the Treasury can’t afford them” David Willetts
Rob Stanning wrote to six local MPs who represent Southampton students. Though he knows he is unlikely to change their position, he plans to “ensure they are aware that SUSU stands against any rise in fees and that alternatives should be looked at.”
However, David Willetts, the Universities Minister, has suggested that raising the cap on fees may not be sufficient as students would have to borrow heavily from the government, pushing up public spending to an extent the treasury simply could not cope with.
The solution proposed by many is a graduate tax, an idea Business Secretary Vince Cable, asked the Browne review to look into in depth. Graduate tax has been accused of penalising those who successfully complete their degrees. According to the Association of Investment Companies, 34% of students currently estimate that they will leave University with debts of over £20,000 and nearly half believe it will take them over a decade to pay this off. Stanning advised students to “follow the review very closely.”