Cambridge University 'to charge maximum fees'

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The Independent Online

Cambridge University is proposing to charge students the maximum £9,000 in tuition fees from next year, it was revealed today.

Poorer students would be offered reductions of up to £3,000 per year, plus bursaries of up to £1,625.

The proposals are contained in a report from Cambridge's working group on fees, which has been published for consultation.

MPs voted in December to raise tuition fees to £6,000 per year from 2012, with universities allowed to charge £9,000 in exceptional circumstances.

But according to the report, the working group is recommending a single rate of £9,000 for all home and EU students, regardless of the course or college they study at.

It says: "The level of tuition fee charged from 2012 entry should be the maximum permissible, i.e. £9,000 per annum with any subsequent adjustment for inflationary increases."

Cambridge is believed to be one of the first institutions to announce it is planning to charge students the maximum fee level allowed.

Students from homes with a household income of less than £25,000 will get a reduction of £3,000, plus a bursary of £1,625. This reduction will taper down to zero for students from homes with an income of over £42,000.

The report argues that even with tuition fees set at £9,000, the university is still "carrying the burden of a significant loss per student".

"To charge less than the maximum would be fiscally irresponsible," it says.

The report also says it expects that "most if not all of our peers" will charge the maximum.

The report adds: "To charge less than £9,000 might raise questions about our commitment to excellence since a reduced fee in the long term could only be sustained by reducing costs and hence quality."

A Cambridge University spokesman said: "This report has been published online for consultation with members and staff of the university and colleges. It follows due consideration by a working party made up of senior academic, college and student representatives.

"The report and the responses to the consultation will help the University's Council decide what arrangements it wishes to propose for the fees, financial support for students and access provisions to Office For Fair Access by its deadline of 31 March."

The report comes as Oxford University prepares to debate fee levels today.

The Government is expected to publish further details of university access agreements - which usually set out fee levels, bursaries and financial support available for poorer students later this week.