The University of Exeter has become the third institution to announce that they plan to introduce £9,000 tuition fees, the maximum any UK university is allowed to charge. This follows similar announcements from the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London, both members of the elite Russell Group.
Last month, the universities minister, David Willetts said that universities that made the choice to charge more could look “rather silly” if applicants opted for institutions offering lower fees. The government had hoped to restrict fees to an average of £7,500, fearing that otherwise loans would be unmanageable and therefore university places would potentially have to be cut. However, the enormous numbers of graduates entering the job market may push students to pay more to gain an edge.
The maximum fee was expected to be charged only in “exceptional circumstances”, such as courses with especially high teaching costs, or offering an intensive two-year course. While those charging over £6,000 annually will be subject to agreements with the Office For Fair Access (Offa) to recruit students from poorer backgrounds, the NUS have in the past called Offa “weak and toothless”.
Yesterday Willetts stated that arts courses should not charge more than £6,000 annually, but it appears this is yet another suggestion being ignored by competing universities.