Education Secretary Damian Hinds drops major hint that arts degrees will be cheaper
Damian Hinds has dropped the biggest hint yet that the cost of arts and social science degrees are set to be slashed.
The new Education Secretary said Universities could be forced to offer students better "value for money" on degrees according to a range of factors.
It comes as Theresa May prepares to launch a major review of university finance tomorrow.
Mr Hinds said the benefit of a degree to the wider economy, its resulting career prospects and how much it costs the university should all be considered in deciding the cost of fees in England.
The move would usher in fee cuts to arts and social science degrees, which are cheaper to put on and are less career-boosting, while science and engineering subjects could attract a higher rate.
However ministers are considering subsidising some high-value courses to keep costs down for students.
In an interview with the Sunday Times, Mr Hinds said he did not want to see headline fees rise above the current maximum of £9,250.
He added: “We have a system where you have got almost all institutions and almost all courses at those institutions charging exactly the same price.
“Some have higher returns to the student than others.
“It’s right that we now ask questions about how that system operates. I would like to see options available which have different costs.”
The intervention comes as the Prime Minister prepares to appoint a chair of the independent panel to review fees – as promised in autumn of last year.
The study will look at whether students are paying a fair amount, the efficiency of the current system, and whether students are getting value for money.
And it comes as a Treasury Committee report calls on the Government to reconsider the current 6.1% interest rate on fees.
Chair of the committee Nicky Morgan blasted the above market rates as lacking a “persuasive explanation” and said “high-flying graduates may pay less than graduates on more modest earnings”.
Elsewhere in the interview, Mr Hinds pledged to expand grammar and faith schools and reaffirmed the right of parents to remove their kids from sex education classes.