Student advice website Student Hut has launched an online petition opposing the recently announced tuition fee rises from 2017 onwards.
The recently announced Higher Education and Research Bill laid out plans to increase tuition fees for new and current students in line with inflation. As a result, annual fees at UK universities are likely to increase £9,250 in 2017 and to over £9,500 in 2018.
The bill also introduces a new system to assess the teaching quality of Higher Education Institutions. The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) will rank universities into one of three tiers based on tuition quality, and higher ranked universities could be allowed to raise fees further in the future.
The petition, which will delivered to Education Secretary Justine Greening MP and Universities Minister Jo Johnson MP, calls on the government to freeze fees at the current £9,000 level and to reconsider the use of the TEF as a way of introducing variable rate tuition. It argues that any increase will create an ‘elitist two-tier higher education system’ that will impose fee caps on lower ranked institutions while those ranked higher will be allowed to increase their fees even further.
Student Hut claims this situation will force prospective students to choose between universities that do not have sufficient financing to make improvements or an ‘unreasonably high’ level of student debt. The organisation claims that the poorest university students already face graduating with over £50,000 of debt, and that as a result it would be ‘unacceptable’ to force them to pay more.