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Photography Jacob Chabeaux

UK government set to ‘raise university tuition fees’

According to new teaching reforms, institutions will soon be able to charge more than the current maximum rate

The UK government could soon be raising university tuition fees, thanks to series of new teaching reforms announced by MPs this week.

The controversial plans – which are being unveiled in The White Paper today (May 16) – will reportedly force universities to publish their student attendance, as well as graduate jobs and earnings. If the institutions do well in these areas, or if the teaching is seen as high quality, they will be legally able to raise their annual tuition fees above the maximum £9,000.

According to reports in The Independent, government ministers claim that the new measures will help “tackle the skills shortfall in some employment sectors and encourage universities to provide a higher quality of teaching.”

Since the announcement, the plans to raise the fees have been welcomed by universities, who believe they will help provide prospective students with a better choice of course linked to employment. “Students, colleges and employers will welcome these plans, which mean more opportunities for people to access the most suitable and best value higher education courses,” said Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC).

“This ‘understanding’ of education is utterly warped: education isn’t something we can just buy, and learning doesn’t stop once we leave university” – Minesh Parekh

The government has also apparently announced plans to allow new private colleges – known as “challenger institutions” – to award degrees if they meet national standards.

“Our universities are engines of economic growth and social mobility, but if we are to remain competitive and ensure that a high-quality education remains open to all, we cannot stand still,” stated Universities and science minister Jo Johnson. “Making it easier for high-quality challenger institutions to start offering their own degrees will help drive up teaching quality, boost the economy and extend aspiration and life chances for students from all backgrounds.”

Unfortunately, given the fact that UK students are lumbered with the highest university fees in the world, many young people probably won’t see these new developments so positively. According to one group of campaigners at Sheffield University Union (SSU), there are already plans to “sabotage” the new fee hikes; with education officer Minesh Parekh calling them “incredibly ideological.”

“This ‘understanding’ of education is utterly warped: education isn’t something we can just buy, and learning doesn’t stop once we leave university,” Parekh told The Independent. “Higher education in the UK is currently at a crossroads. If the Government’s reforms succeed, we are faced with the prospect of higher fees, less transparency, and an education which is ‘satisfying’ or ‘nice’ rather than challenging, inspiring, and liberating.”