Given the fury that greeted the government’s decision to triple higher education tuition fees, it took a surprisingly short time for £9,000 a year to be accepted as the going rate for universities.
But Labour’s general election campaign pledge to axe fees completely has dragged the issue back into the spotlight.
The move proved popular among younger voters and appears to have bounced the Conservatives into revisiting the issue, with prime minister Theresa May pledging to undertake a “major review of university funding and student financing” at the party’s conference this month.
For now, at least, the maximum fee has been frozen at £9,250 per year for 2018-19. But while colleges have increasingly been seen as a more affordable source of higher education, new research by Tes has found that a growing number of FE colleges are looking to charge fees on a par with leading universities.
According to data from the Office for Fair Access (Offa), 13 further education colleges will be permitted to charge a maximum fee of £9,250 for 2018-19. A further 13 plan to charge £9,000 per year for at least some of their HE provision. In 2015-16, nine colleges charged £9,000 – the maximum allowed at the time.
Institutions charging more than £6,000 for courses have to establish an access agreement with Offa. The most recent figures show that 85 FE institutions have such an agreement for 2017-18 – an increase from 62 in 2016-17. Read more