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Tuition fees to rise for new students this year


Students are set to pay more to go to university next year, with the average fee rising to more than £8,600.

More than a quarter (27 per cent) of institutions will charge the maximum £9,000 as standard in 2014/15, according to official figures.

And almost three in four (72 per cent) will charge the top price for at least one degree course.

Overall, students starting degree courses in autumn next year will be charged an estimated £8,647, compared with around an estimated £8,500 for 2013/14.

After fee waivers, which reduce the cost for poorer students, the estimated average fee will be £8,425, the figures show.

And once all financial support, including fee waivers, bursaries, scholarships and grants are taken into account, the average tuition fee for 2014/15 is estimated to be £8,006.

Details of the fees due to be charged by English universities next year were released by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) as it published new information on institutions' plans to ensure that poorer students are not priced out of higher education.

Under the new fees system, universities and colleges that want to charge more than £6,000 a year, up to a maximum of £9,000, must submit to OFFA annual "access agreements" setting out how they will attract and recruit disadvantaged students.

Those institutions which fail to meet the targets laid out in the agreement risk facing hefty fines or losing the right to charge higher fees.

The latest OFFA figures show that out of 162 universities and colleges with access agreements, 117 (72 per cent) are planning to charge £9,000 for some or all of their courses.

A total of 43 institutions (27 per cent) plan to set their fees at £9,000 across the board.

Around eight universities are planning to charge £9,000 on average after fee waivers have been taken into account, the new data shows.

These institutions are likely to provide bursaries or other forms of financial support.

OFFA said that the latest access agreements show that universities and colleges are setting themselves challenging targets, and planning on taking part in more "outreach" work - this includes offering summer schools and masterclasses as well as working with schools, employers and colleges.

OFFA director Professor Les Ebdon said: "I am pleased that universities and colleges have risen to the challenges I set them and are spending increasingly smartly. Many are continuing to evolve their patterns of investment, using evidence and evaluation to focus on what works to improve access to higher education and successful outcomes for students from under-represented backgrounds.

"Universities that have further to go to broaden their student intake are doing more to reach out to people in communities where few people go to higher education, thus raising their aspirations and attainment. Outreach work is key to addressing the unacceptably large participation gap that remains at the universities with the highest entry requirements, so I welcome the greater focus in this area."

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of vice-chancellors' group Universities UK, said: "Universities are focusing on the evidence and evaluating what works best for them in terms of improving participation and securing positive outcomes for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The work involves targeted outreach work with schools and colleges and the effective allocation of financial support.

"Expenditure on outreach and student support by universities in England has continued to rise and, crucially, is being invested in a focused and targeted way.

"These agreements demonstrate how universities remain committed to widening access and supporting student success. This is important as higher education transforms lives and equal opportunity in terms of access is crucial, both socially and economically."