Tuition fees could rise above £9,500 in 2018.
Fees for the 2017-18 academic year are already set to rise to £9,250 for new and current students in line with inflation under the first trial phase of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), which will see English universities inspected and ranked based on teaching quality.
The specification for the second trial phase states that all universities subject to the TEF will be able to increase fees to provide a ‘full inflationary uplift’ for courses starting in Autumn 2018. With inflation for 2018 currently predicted at 3.2%, fees are likely to be pushed above £9,500 for the first time.
The government also recently announced that universities inspected under the TEF will be ranked in a medal-style system of gold, silver and bronze tiers. After the 2018 fee increase, a system of different fee levels for each tier is likely be implemented.
Universities Minister Jo Johnson commented:
By setting out clear incentives for universities, the framework will drive up quality in the sector at the same time as improving student choice and crucially, graduate outcomes…
The framework will also give students clear, understandable information about where the best teaching is on offer and for the first time, place teaching quality on a par with research at our universities.
A number of universities including Royal Holloway, the University of Surrey and the University of Kent have already confirmed they expect to charge higher fees for new students from 2017 subject to parliamentary approval.
It is unclear whether the University of Southampton plans to increase its fees. The university’s access agreement for the 2017-18 academic year currently states:
We anticipate that we will receive the rating of ‘meets expectations’ in the first phase of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), which is the requirement for the inflationary increase, but official confirmation is still awaited.We also need to consult with key stakeholders including the student body before any decision is made regarding whether the University will opt to increase fees beyond £9,000 if eligible and if so whether the increase would apply to continuing students in addition to the 2017 intake.
Earlier this year, Union Southampton President Alex Hovden told Wessex Scene that the Union was ‘deeply concerned’ by any prospect of a fee increase, and that he ‘could not envisage’ himself personally supporting any rise.