According to the Time Higher Education webinar, it is unlikely that universities fees will be reduced for the upcoming academic year despite the shift to online learning. Officials such as the Max Lu, Vice-Chancellor of Surrey University, and the previous universities minister for the government, both revealed in the International Student Seminar that fees are expected to stay the same.
Reasoning for not reducing costs to attend university ranged from universities’ wishes to maintain quality of teaching, wanting to prevent destabilising the sector with a major cut in tuition fees, and ensuring that campuses feel safe throughout the year. Max Lu also claimed that the effort to combine face-to-face and online learning would result in higher costs for universities to run courses. Those in the webinar also suggested that fees would remain the same for international students as well as domestic students.
It is expected that there will be a higher level of deferrals this year than usual, particularly from international students. Nevertheless, Vivienne Stern, Director of Universities UK International, said that universities would still be looking to maintain previous years’ standard of admission, meaning that it may not be necessarily easier to gain entry to university than before. However, she did admit that for selective universities, it would mean a smaller pool of potential applicants.
Guy Doughty, UK Director at SI-UK, emphasised that universities needed to provide more information about their plans for the 2020/21 academic year in the next few weeks, particularly in terms of course dates and how learning will take place. Additionally, the question as to whether tuition fees will be decreased or remain the same is information that will provide some clarity for incoming and returning students for how the next academic year will be conducted.