50 universities to charge £9,000

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The Independent Online

All but one English university has submitted plans to charge more than £6,000 in tuition fees next year, with 50 charging the maximum of £9,000, new figures suggest.

Figures released by the Office for Fair Access (Offa) show that 122 of 123 universities submitted access agreements by the deadline of midnight last night.

The other university has been given an extended deadline as a high proportion of its courses are part-time.

The figures suggest that around 40 universities have so far decided not to publicly declare their new fee levels.

In total, 80 institutions have publicly announced their charges for next year.

Of these, around two-thirds - 50 universities - are planning to charge the maximum £9,000, and a further seven are charging up to £9,000 for some courses.

MPs voted to raise tuition fees to £6,000 in December last year, with universities able to charge up to £9,000 in "exceptional circumstances".

Institutions planning to set fees at more than £6,000 were required to submit "access agreements", setting out how they would ensure poor students are not priced out, to Offa for approval.

Offa is expected to announce which universities have had their access agreements approved on July 11.

As well as the submissions from universities, 17 further education colleges have submitted agreements, the figures show.

It is now expected that the average tuition fee for next year will be around £8,500, rather than the £7,500 predicted by the Government and on which it has based its future funding of universities.

Ministers have warned universities that if the majority set fees at or close to the maximum £9,000, then they will face cuts to funding and student places.

According to an analysis by Labour, drawing on House of Commons figures, around 36,000 university places could be cut as the Government tries to make up the funding gap.