Closed petition Reduce University student tuition fees from £9250 to £3000

Call on the government to consider holding debates in Parliament between MPs and university students to raise/discuss issues that affect them. It will allow students to voice their opinions and concerns about tuition fees of £9250 a year which are too high, particularly as grants have been removed

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Higher education is the key for our nation’s future, live Parliament debates involving MPs and students are crucial to give them the opportunity to raise the issues of concern in particular reducing University student fees & other matters impacting their lives including accommodation costs. The debates should include university students, post graduates, those from poorer backgrounds and disabilities also college students. Covid-19 has left the nation’s future economy/job market uncertain

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Government responded

This response was given on 26 January 2021

Tuition fee levels must represent value for money and ensure that universities are properly funded. Government is not considering a reduction in maximum fee levels to £3,000.

Read the response in full

This is a difficult time for students and Government supports the desire of everyone in higher education (HE) that students continue receiving the best possible learning experience, while recognising the wide range of issues that have arisen from the pandemic.

Students have made their voice heard through a range of e-petitions over the past year. Government’s responses to previous petitions on fee refunds can be read here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/302855 and here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/324762. The Petitions Committee held an inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 on students, and Parliament debated its impact on students on 16 November 2020. This can be viewed at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/324762. Students may engage with the democratic process further by writing to their MP.

Regarding tuition fee levels, this Government is committed to a sustainable funding model that supports high-quality provision, meets the skills needs of the country and maintains the world-class reputation of UK HE.

The maximum tuition fee cap has been frozen for four years and will remain at £9,250 in 2021/22 for standard full-time courses. HE providers are autonomous and responsible for setting their own fees under this level. In deciding to keep charging full fees, providers will want to ensure that they can continue to deliver courses which are fit for purpose and help students progress their qualifications. The Office for Students (OfS) has made it clear that HE providers must continue to comply with registration conditions relating to quality and academic standards, which set out requirements to ensure that courses are high-quality, that students are supported and achieve good outcomes and that standards are protected, regardless of whether a provider is delivering its courses through face-to-face teaching, online learning, or a combination of both.

The OfS is taking very seriously the potential impacts of the pandemic on teaching and learning and is regularly engaging with all registered providers. It is actively monitoring providers to ensure that they maintain the quality of their provision; that it is accessible for all; and that they have been clear in their communications with students about how arrangements for teaching and learning may change throughout the year. If students have concerns about the quality of online tuition, they should first raise their concerns with their university. If their concerns remain unresolved, students at providers in England or Wales can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education to consider their complaint.

The Government pays tuition fees upfront on behalf of eligible students, through a system of subsidised loans, and the student loan repayment system provides unique protections to borrowers. Borrowers with post-2012 undergraduate loans pay back 9% of earnings above the repayment threshold, currently £26,575 per year (rising to £27,295 in April). Repayments are linked to income, not to the amount borrowed, and if a borrower’s income drops, so do their repayments. Any unpaid loan is written off after 30 years at no detriment to the individual.

We recognise that in these exceptional circumstances some students may be facing considerable financial hardship, and we encourage universities and private landlords to review their accommodation policies to ensure they are fair, clear and have students’ interests at heart. The Department for Education has worked with the OfS to clarify that HE providers are able to use existing funds, worth around £256 million for academic year 2020/21, towards hardship support. The Government has recently made available up to £20m of further hardship funding on a one-off basis to support those that need it most, particularly disadvantaged students, and cross-government work is continuing to consider what additional support can be provided. Government plays no role in the provision of student residential accommodation.

Loans for living costs are available as a contribution towards a student’s living costs while attending university. The system targets the most support at those from the lowest-income families. Students undertaking courses that would normally require attendance on-site, but for which learning has moved either fully or partially online due to Covid-19, will qualify for living costs support in 2020/21 as they would ordinarily. Students who suspend their studies for a variety of reasons, including shielding, can apply for their living costs support to be continued while they are absent from their course. Students in receipt of a living costs loan who have been awarded a lower amount than the maximum can apply for their entitlement to be reassessed, if they believe that their household income for the current tax year will drop by at least 15% compared to the amount they advised when they were initially assessed.

Department for Education