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UK – Magical trick for the review of tuition fees

The highly controversial, as the National Union of Students had lobbied intesively against it, UK review of the cap on tuition fees, originally planned for 2009, seems to have been postponed for 2010 instead, after the June elections. The revision was promised to take place this year in 2004 already, when the GBP 3 000 cap on tuition fees was introduced at British universities.

The official reason behind the delay, according to the Minister of State for Higher Education, David Lammy is that the review is intended to be integrated in the wider overhaul of the UK higher education system (for further details on this initiative see the December 2008 edition of the ACA Newsletter – Education Europe). However, a more plausible explanation seems to be related to the fact that some university leaders, fearing the negative consequences of the financial crisis on universities public funding, are eager to see the maximum limit lifted, to allow them to charge as much as GBP 6 000 to 7 000. But this would be a very unpopular measure in an electoral year. Hence the decision to finalise the review in 2010.

While the announcement answers the universities’ concerns, it seems doubtful that the students’ representatives will only keep their fingers crossed and wait until then.