Top-up fees 'will increase to £5,000'

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The Independent Online

Students will have to payuniversity fees of £5,000 a year by the end of the decade, university staff believe.

Academic staff revealed that £5,000 a year was "the natural market ceiling" for top-up fees, to be introduced for the first time this autumn. Ministers are committed to reviewing fee levels in 2009, and leading universities are already putting the pressure on them to lift the £3,000 ceiling.

Research from the University of Southampton and the Knowledge Partnership, an independent education consultancy, published today, warns that some universities might struggle to survive at £3,000 per year. "Which institutions are considered most vulnerable?" the report said. "The answer seems to be those that have traditionally found it hard to recruit, those in London or in isolated locations."

Most academics were certain that the Government would lift the £3,000 ceiling after the general election.

But it was noted that Leeds Metropolitan University, one of only a handful not to charge the maximum fee of £3,000, had noted an 8 per cent rise in applications this summer.

The report warns that students are likely to be more litigious if they are not satisfied with courses under the top-up fees regime.

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