Oxford Brookes defies Cable as fees rise to £9,000

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The Independent Online

Oxford Brookes University became the latest higher education institution to defy pleas by Business Secretary Vince Cable to limit fee rises yesterday. It was the 25th university to opt for the maximum charge of £9,000 per student from September 2012.

The announcement came just a day after Mr Cable warned universities they would face further cuts in their teaching grants and could lose student places if too many opted for the maximum charge.

In Oxford Brookes' case, the university will cut the number of on-campus places by around 1,000 to give students more high-quality contact time with lecturing staff. These places will be redistributed to further education colleges – for which students will be charged only the £6,000 minimum fee.

Janet Beer, the vice-chancellor, said: "I firmly believe this is the right decision. It will lead us to focus even more on improving the quality of a Brookes degree."

A second university, Southampton Solent, also set its fee yesterday. The former polytechnic will charge students £7,800 a year.

Professor Van Gore, its vice-chancellor, said: "We have sought to strike a balance between our commitment to social justice and the need to invest in improving the student experience."

So far 36 universities have announced their plans for next year's fees. The 25 that will charge the maximum range from Oxford and Cambridge to former polytechnic, the University of Central Lancashire. Applications have now to be scrutinised by the Office for Fair Access to ensure they include plans to boost the number of disadvantaged students.

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