Tuition fees policy changes again

The government’s stance on the ongoing issue of tuition fees has changed again, potentially inconveniencing prospective students.The White Paper, published in late June, outlined plans to take 20,000 student places from across the university system as a whole. Institutions with average annual tuition fees of less than £7,500 will then be able to bid for these places.

However, these plans were announced after many institutions had announced their 2012 fees. In light of this new policy, 28 universities have now requested to reduce their annual fees to this limit of £7,500 or less. The institutions have until Friday 4th November to submit their final fee proposals.

Some have seen this as a way to reduce fees, after more universities opted for the £9,000 maximum than were expected to. Oxford Brookes and other institutions, which were not in the Guardian’s list of the top 40 universities, had raised theirs to this maximum. Oxford University has not professed an interest in decreasing their rates; theirs, alongside Cambridge’s, still stands at the maximum of £9,000 per year.

The changes come at a time when UCAS is already in motion, and many prospective students are vying for these coveted university spaces. The deadline for Oxbridge, medicine and veterinary science has already passed. In these instances, the relevant universities must inform the candidates of any changes in their policy and then provide them with the option of sticking with their decision or switching to another choice. One Oxford applicant from Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls says that “although Oxford’s fees have not been decreased, and I won’t be changing my choices, I can imagine how inconvenient this must be for some. I would hate to go through the entire process again!” In all other institutions the universities must directly contact the candidates and notify them of any changes, giving them the opportunity to alter their choices before the UCAS deadline of 15th January.

The White Paper also intends to allow universities to accept as many of the highest performing students they can attract, with A-Level grades of AAB or higher. Some fear that this will lead to a disproportionate number of arts courses, which are both cheaper to run and tend to have more stringent entry requirements.

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