A change to university tuition fees, which would increase fees to £9,250, has been implemented without any official announcement. The rise in cost will affect up to half a million students in England from this autumn.
It was added to the government website, but no announcement came from the Department of Education. Fees have been set at £9,000 since 2012, but now tuition fees are set to increase annually due to inflation.
Some MPs, who planned to challenge the decision when it was published, called it ‘shabby’ and accused the government of attempting to ‘sneak out’ the fee rise, as the plan was added to the government website on the same day as school league tables.
Labour MP Gordon Marsden told the BBC: “They are hell-bent on keeping this increase as low-profile as possible as it's piling up debts on students.”
Liberal Democrat Tim Farron said: “This is a shabby little way to announce something, hiding it away in a far-flung corner of a government website. This shows the government at their worst, avoiding scrutiny and debate.”
The Department of Education said in an official statement that the fees would reflect the quality of teaching, stating: “Importantly, universities will not be able to increase their fees unless they have passed rigorous quality standards. We are determined to make sure that everyone with the potential to benefit from higher education has the opportunity to do so.”
The changes, which went unnoticed for days, could also affect students who are already studying, should universities decide to do so.
A previous increase to fees saw thousands of protest across the country.