FROM PARENTS' GUIDE: AN INDEPENDENT PUBLISHING MAGAZINE

Fee facts: Is the price right?

The implications of tuition fees for new students

According to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), as of this March, applications to UK universities were down 3.4 per cent on last year, the first drop in six years. From this September, universities and colleges were permitted to charge tuition fees of up to £3,000 per year for new students, and most institutions are charging the full amount. The question from commentators and opposition politicians is whether these two facts are connected.

The key change is that while under the previous system students paid for tuition up front, the new fees can be paid off following graduation, once yearly income reaches £15,000. This is achieved by means of financial assistance. A non-means-tested fee loan is available to all graduates. In addition, a partly means-tested loan has been introduced to cover living costs. A further grant of up to £2,700 is available to assist students from low-income households, alongside a raft of new bursaries offered by colleges and local authorities.

47 per cent of sixth form students questioned in a survey by the Universities Marketing Forum stated that inability to afford fees was either "quite likely" or "very likely" to deter them from applying. "Fees are one of the things that put me off," says Danny Parr, 19, who left school after performing exceptionally in AS Levels. "Knowing how much debt I'd end up in for a course I may end up disliking would depress me."

However, the drop in applications appears to mirror the increase shown in last year's figures. This could be interpreted as school and college leavers neglecting gap years in order to take advantage of the final year of the old system.

As Alan Johnson, education secretary and architect of the new tuition fee system points out, in 2010 a graduate earning £18,000 a year will be paying back their loan at a rate of just £5.20 a week and "by that time it's probably the price of a pint." Given that over their lifetime graduates are said to earn, on average, £150,000 more than their non-university educated contemporaries, in effect new students will be in a better financial position than their predecessors.

However, there is controversy over the variable nature of fees. The current legislation retains the £3,000 price cap until 2010, but there is pressure from universities for these restrictions to be lifted. If institutions can charge varying amounts for admission, the allegation is that a situation in which elite institutions imposing higher fees will accentuate a social class gap in Higher Education, already described by former education secretary Charles Clarke as "a national disgrace".

Key to the Government's legislation is the idea that a more market-orientated system must be introduced in order to allow British universities to compete on a global playing field, alongside the US Ivy League colleges. This injects the Higher Education sector with a commercialisation that many interest groups, such as the National Union of Students (NUS), find disquieting. The Government's message is that, viewed in perspective, the new system should encourage rather than deter students from all backgrounds from applying to university.

Further info on the new tuition fee and financial assistance regimes is on the UCAS website at www.ucas.ac.uk/studentfinance/index.html

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Extras
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value
indybest

Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Sport
Two christmas trees ,Moonbeam (2L), Moonchester (2R) and Santa Claus outside the Etihad Stadium
footballAll the action from today's games
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Software Developer

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Join a fast growing software co...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Executive / Digital Account Executive

£20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate / Digital Account Exe...

Guru Careers: Junior Designer / Design Graduate

£18k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Junior Designer / Design Graduate to join...

Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas