Oxford University has announced that for UK and EU students undertaking their first undergraduate degrees, 2017 tuition fees will be £9,250 and rise in line with inflation. Similar to previous years, UK students can still access loans from the government for the full tuition fee amount, however government maintenance grants are no longer available.
Oxford University Press Office claimed the rise was necessary and the extra fees would fund additional admissions work. A spokesperson told Cherwell, “Oxford University’s decision to increase fees in line with inflation was taken after full discussion in Council. University fees in the UK were previously linked to inflation but have been frozen for the past four years. Like many other institutions, Oxford faces increasing costs to deliver our pre-eminent tutorial system of education. The increase in fee income will also go to fund our essential admissions outreach work. We already spend more additional fee income on this than almost any other university in the country and we are committed to increasing and extending it to give ever more students the best possible chance of an Oxford education.”
These changes follow approval by Parliament of plans from higher education minister Jo Johnson that universities meeting expectations under the new teaching excellence framework (TEF) would be able to raise them from September 2017.
Johnson argued in July this year, “The £9,000 tuition fee introduced in 2012 has already fallen in value to £8,500 in real terms. If we leave it unchanged, it will be worth £8,000 by the end of this parliament. We want to ensure that our universities have the funding they need and that every student receives a high-quality experience during their time in higher education.”
The increase is linked to the inflation measure known as RPIX – the ‘retail price index excluding mortgage interest payments’, which reached 2.8% in January 2014.
Oxford University Student Union condemned the rise, claiming it would discourage students from poorer backgrounds to apply to Oxford. They told Cherwell, “At OUSU we are exceptionally disappointed by the University’s decision to increase fees. We participated in discussions about whether or not fees should rise at University Council (the University’s highest decision-making body) and strongly opposed this move. However, the decision was made by Council to raise fees despite student concerns.
“All existing evidence focusing on access to Higher Education highlights that debt aversion disproportionately affects prospective students from the least socio-economically privileged backgrounds alongside other underrepresented groups when applying to university.”
“Though only a small consolation, we would like students, and particularly those most concerned about finances, to know that we are working with the University to ensure the least detrimental implementation of this policy possible,” the statement continues. In particular, we have been reassured that better bursary support will be available to students in financial need and we have been working hard to represent students on these matters to secure the best possible packages. From our involvement, we feel confident that the Student Fees and Funding department are at least working to make the application process for hardship funds more accessible.”