Universities try to avoid 'Ratner' tag by insisting on £7,500 tuition fees

Not a single university has so far come up with a proposal to charge tuition fees of less than £7,500 a year – the figure ministers hoped would be the average, and the benchmark they subsequently budgeted for.

Aaron Porter, president of the National Union of Students, said: "No one wants to be known as the 'Ratner' university – offering a cheap education."

The charges pose an awkward dilemma for ministers, who have said universities will face further cuts if the average figure for fees is higher than £7,500 – the sum the Treasury has budgeted for when determining how much to allocate to student loans.

Figures obtained by Labour show the cuts would range from an extra £50m if the average annual fee was £7,600 to £770m if all universities charged £9,000.

Gareth Thomas, Labour's Higher Education spokesman, said: "The Government repeatedly promised that fees over £6,000 would be the exception but it is increasingly clear that they're powerless to stop most universities charging closer to £9,000."

Details of the potential fee levels emerged from consultations between students and universities taking place in the vast majority of England's 130 higher education institutions. They cover a wide range, from those in the elite Russell Group of leading research institutions to the former polytechnics. About seven out of 10 universities are said to be planning to charge the maximum fees for every course. Some students claim there must have been collusion between the universities for so many to have settled on this plan, which would be illegal under fair trading legislation.

However, Mr Porter said: "I haven't seen any evidence of it and if I did I would report it to the Office of Fair Trading." But he added that he found it "difficult" to believe there had not been some conversations about fee levels.

"I find it practically very difficult to see how certain groups of institutions wouldn't find out what other institutions in the same group are charging," he said.

So far Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College London have opted to charge the maximum £9,000 – as has Exeter, the first non-Russell Group university to do so. It is likely to be followed by many others. Oxford finalised its plans on Monday night.

Liverpool John Moores University has indicated that it will not be charging the maximum.

Ministers will not be able to look to the Office for Fair Access, the admissions watchdog, to bail them out. Sir Martin Harris, its director general, has made it clear that he cannot stop universities charging £9,000 a year if they have come up with an adequate proposal to encourage disadvantaged young people to take up places.

However, his final decision on their submissions will not be made until June, after many of this year's lower sixth forms have already begun the process of applying for university.

As a result, UCAS says it will not be able to give students details of the fees charged for their courses when they first post them online.

* Universities will be told today of how the cuts in spending will affect their budgets next year. The Higher Eduction Funding Council has already indicated that nationally they face a £300m cut in their teaching budgets and £100m lopped off research.

Oxbridge discounts

Oxford and Cambridge are to offer cut-price degrees for Britain's poorest young people.

Students at Oxford from families on a combined income of £16,000 a year will be given a £5,500 waiver in their first year, paying £3,500. Thereafter, fees will rise to £6,000 a year. Students whose family income is between £16,000 and £25,000 a year will pay fees of £6,000 to £8,000.

Oxford will also offer first-year students bursaries of up to £4,300 to help with accommodation so they will not be forced to work to pay living costs.

Cambridge has also offered a fees waiver of £3,500 as an alternative to its existing bursary scheme, while the poorest students will be offered a further waiver of £6,000.

Both universities intend to charge £9,000 a year to all other students.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
News
people
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
film
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Environment
The vaquita is being killed by fishermen trying to catch the totoaba fish, which is prized in China
environmentJust 97 of the 'world's cutest' sea mammals remain
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor

£30000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent: Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor - Ke...

Ashdown Group: HR Generalist - 2 week contract - £200pd - Immediate start

£200 per day: Ashdown Group: Working within a business that has a high number ...

Randstad Education Cardiff: Maths Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: We are currently recruiting f...

Randstad Education Cardiff: Science Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Science Teacher -Full Time - ...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?