Government suggests university fees could be linked to course subject

Posted On: 
13th September 2017

Universities could be forced into linking the fees they charge to the value of the course studied, Philip Hammond has said.

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The Chancellor suggested a shake-up of the current system was being considered “very carefully”, although he added that the fees system had “broadly served us well”.

Critics have long argued that students studying in areas such as science, engineering and maths indirectly subsidise subjects in the arts and humanities. Universities in turn have warned against defining the quality of subjects.

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Mr Hammond admitted calls for change had become “more vociferous” amid the scrapping of maintenance grants, the planned autumn rise in fees from £9,000 to £9,250 and the increase in student loan interest from 4.6 to 6.1 %.

Speaking at the Lords economic affairs committee yesterday, he said: “I do think there’s a difference between a graduate who leaves university with a quite significant level of debt and a degree which is known to provide strong employment opportunities, and a graduate who perhaps has a similar level of debt but who may not have a degree that is going to enhance his or her employment opportunities in the same way.”

Ahead of November's budget, Mr Hammond was reported last week as asking Tory backbenchers to submit suggestions on how best to help the disparity between generations, and in particular students being “hit with debt”.

His call comes as are due to Labour force a Commons vote today on the Government’s plans to raise tuition fees by £250 a year.