Elite universities unveil plans to charge students £24,000 'market rate' for degree

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The Independent Online

Students could pay up to £18,000 in tuition fees for a three-year arts degree and £24,000 for a science degree under proposals to be unveiled tomorrow by leading universities.

Students could pay up to £18,000 in tuition fees for a three-year arts degree and £24,000 for a science degree under proposals to be unveiled tomorrow by leading universities.

Their report, prompted by concerns about lack of funding, argues that universities should charge market prices for degrees, but that impoverished students should be protectedby scholarships.

It will be strongly opposed by many vicechancellors, including some within the Russell group of 19 élite universities, which commissioned the report. Written by an economist, Professor David Greenaway, pro-vice-chancellor of Nottingham University, the report recommends lifting the current controls over university fees and numbers.

At present the annual tuition fee of £1,025 is a flat rate set by government; numbers are similarly controlled.

By lifting state controls, private money would flow into the system, the report says. Home students could be charged the kind of sums overseas students pay - £6,000 a year for an arts degree, £8,000 for a science degree and up to £16,900 for a medical degree.

Universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Warwick and Bristol would be able to charge higher fees than Derby, Luton or Teesside.

Professor Andrew Oswald, of Warwick University, one of three dons who advised on the report, said: "We need to use market forces and we need to get the beneficiaries of higher education to pay.

"It's not fair to have the plumbers and secretaries subsidising the offspring of bankers to go to university."

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