Browne review suggests no cap on tuition fees

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There should be no cap on tuition fees, says Lord Browne’s higher education spending review published today.

However, universities charging fees higher than £6,000 per year must pay a “levy”. For example, £9,000 fees would see a university pay back 50% of every £1,000 above the £6,000 threshold to the government. If fees are set at £12,000, the levy will be 75%.

This, it is hoped, will deter universities from charging higher fees, though there is theoretically nothing to stop universities charging what they want.

There will be a government statement in parliament at 15.30pm today, in response to the review.

Here’s a run-down of some of the main recommendations in the report:

  • No cap on fees, but universites will pay a levy on fees over £6,000
  • Interest rates on repayments should match what the government pays, which is about 2% above inflation
  • Repayments should stay at 9%, but the repayment threshold should rise to those earning £21k a year or above
  • Students should be able to borrow the exact equivalent of their fees, however high, in a student loan
  • Studet debt should be wiped out after 30 years, not the current 25
  • Maximum grants should rise to £3,250 a year for the poorest students
  • Student numbers should grow by 10%, which is around 30,000, over the next three years

In the report, Lord Browne wrote: “Our recommendations will lead to a signiicant change; we do not underestimate the work that will be required. Since this review was commissioned the pressure on public spending has increased significantly.

“This will add urgency to make funding sustainable. We hope that, as these recommendations are debated, no one loses sight of the powerful role that higher education will play in continuing to build the greatness of this nation.”

The University of Lincoln is expected to release a statement later on today.

In a release, Lincoln Students’ Union wrote: “The University of Lincoln Students’ Union have come out in opposition to recommendations from a review headed by Lord Browne, former Chief Executive of BP, that the government should remove the cap on up-front tuition fees – currently at just over three thousand pounds – and be allowed to charge as much as they wish with the intention of creating a market.

“Chris Charnley, president of the Students’ Union, believes there is no justification for increasing fees whatsoever: ‘Student satisfaction has broadly remained the same since fees were trebled three years ago and the same can be said for quality.

“Universities minister David Willets said himself last year that universities had not yet accounted for the additional income already received, let alone made the case to students and their families about what they would receive in return for even higher fees’.”

Lord Browne has suggested that higher fees is the way forward in higher education funding. Photo: DECC

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