The University has announced today, March 23, that it intends to raise its fees for undergraduate home and EU students to £9,000 for students studying at Warwick from 2012, pending approval from the Office for Fair Access (OFA).
The proposal aims to help those from lower income backgrounds to study at Warwick with fee-waivers and bursaries, worth up to £4,500, for students with a family income of under £25,000.
According to a press release from the University, “around 1,500 (19%) of Warwick’s current undergraduate student population falls within those terms.”
Furthermore, courses aimed to widen access at Warwick such as 2+2 sandwich courses and part-time degrees are set to cost £6,000.
This proposal follows a number of meetings featuring representatives from the University, student representatives, faculty members and heads of department which discussed student experience and funding.
The Senate and Council have taken into consideration the feedback from these sessions and have approved the proposal for the above measures to be instigated from 2012. The University explains the need for the hike in fees as of next year in a press release on its website: “Warwick provides an extremely high quality teaching and learning environment that is valued, and highly sought after, by both students and staff…
“Warwick students are taught by world-leading academics on a campus with a global reputation. Warwick is also consistently ranked as one of the UK’s top ten universities. We need to not just preserve that level of excellence, but to build on it and enhance it despite the reduction in funding that English universities are facing through the cuts to their teaching grants.”
The Students’ Union released a statement earlier today which outlined their position as “opposed to £9,000 fees but determined to win increased investment in the student experience”.
The statement, which denounced the fee rise, argued that “future generations of graduates will be burdened by fees that will result in huge amounts of personal debt during a period of record levels of graduate unemployment.”
Students’ Union Education Officer Sean Ruston maintained a firm opposition to the proposals. “Throughout our negotiations with the University we have remained consistently opposed to the fee rise, but at the same time we’ve had serious discussions about how to invest extra income into improving the student experience.”
Almost all universities so far including Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College, Durham and Exeter have chosen to raise their fees to the maximum amount of £9,000. Only one university so far – London Metropolitan – has chosen not to charge the maximum threshold despite government criticisms that only the top universities should charge this, and must then prove that a significant amount of the extra funds will be put toward improving the student experience.
Warwick have announced that £9.6 million will be invested in improving the student experience with the introduction of new measures which are yet to be announced.
Ruston emphasised the efforts of the Students’ Unions’ to influence the University with regard to these proposals. “Some of our recommendations have directly influenced the allocation of extra funds to improve things like teaching facilities and the general quality of education of Warwick.
“At the same time, we have pushed hard for the University to be as ambitious as possible in providing support for students who need it in terms of bursaries and putting in place new measures to widen access from students from low income backgrounds,” he added.
President of the Students’ Union Daniel Stevens expressed his frustrations of the proposed plans. “It’s disappointing that Warwick is joining other institutions in charging £9,000 and that higher education is in more of a mess… this is definitely a step backward for social mobility in the U.K.”
One first-year English Literature student David Levesley said: “I find it completely irresponsible that a university that based itself off liberal, west coast universities… has decided to use finance to seem like its stuffy Oxbridge rivals.”
Andrew Wilkin, a second-year History undergraduate commented: “After Manchester, Oxbridge, Exeter… I’m not shocked by this whatsoever. All it needed was one top university to state their 9,000 fees and all would follow suit.”
One fourth-year student who wished to remain anonymous stated that the announcement was “unsurprising”.
Stevens concluded by stating that: “The students have to be [at] the centre under the new fees regime, given that students now have the burden and not the government.”
Further details on the proposals will be available once the terms have been agreed with OFA in July 2011.
With contributions from Conlan Day.