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Universities to charge more than £6,000 under new proposals

Every English university will have to charge students more than £6,000 a year to maintain standards under the Government's new fees regime, according to a new analysis published today.

A study of the 118 universities in England reveals they would have to charge £6,863 on average to students - just to make up for the cuts in their budgets announced in the Government's public spending review.

Ministers are planning to slash university budgets for teaching by as much as 80 per cent as a result of the review.

The analysis, carried out by the University and College Union, says the specialist Guildhall School of Music and Drama would have to make the highest charge - £7, 709. The lowest fee would be £6, 251 - which would have to be levied by the Courtauld Institute of Art

The figures vary because the government is retaining funding for some subjects - such as science, maths, engineering and some foreign languages.

They come after the Coalition Government has stressed that any university wanting to charge more than the minimum £6,000 would have to sign an access agreement - guaranteeing to make maximum efforts to ensure students from disadvantaged homes can take up places. Business Secretary Vince Cable has said, in outlining the Government's response to the inquiry into student finance by former BP boss Lord Browne, that universities would only charge more than the £6,000 in exceptional circumstances.

However, the analysis makes it clear that every university would have to seek an access agreement if it wanted to maintain funding levels.

The findings back a survey of vice-chancellors carried out by Universities UK, the body which represents them, earlier this year which suggested they would need to charge at least £7,000 a year to maintain funding.

They come on the eve of a crucial Commons vote on the Government's plans to allow universities to charge a minimum of £6,000 a year and a maximum of £9,000 - almost triple the present level of £3,290.

"Government claims that universities will only charge more than £6,000 a year in exceptional circumstances are completely bogus when one scratches at the surface of the plans," said Sally Hunt, general secretary of the UCU.

"MPs need to think long and hard about whether or not they really think record fee levels benefit their constituents or our international reputation."