Tuition fees in England: the Offa outcomes
It is well known by now that England’s universities are to be allowed to charge tuition fees of up to £6,000, or up to £9,000 if they reach an access agreement with the Office for Fair Access. This latter body, Offa, has now released the full list of tuition fees and details of agreements reached with individual universities.
First, it is clear from the data released that the planned fees have not been adjusted in the case of any university. As a result 47 out of a total of 123 English universities will charge the maximum permitted fee of £9,000. On this basis the average fee payable by students to English universities will be £8,393. However, in the table produced by Offa allowance has been made for fee waivers, bursaries and scholarships, and when these have been taken into account the average is reduced to £7,793. Again according to Offa, institutions will now invest £602 million in access measures that will improve participation by members of disadvantaged groups.
At the same time we also now have information about tuition fees in Wales: the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales has announced that the average fee in Wales will be £8,800, though Welsh students will have a significant proportion of this refunded by the Welsh government.
What the impact of all this will be on higher education, participation levels, student attrition, student migration and access for the disadvantaged remains to be seen. It is also not at all clear at this point how effective the Offa régime is turning out to be. It is certain that a lot of attention will be focused on the higher education experience in England over coming years.