Education news

Students oppose differential fees, report says

A study found young people rejected the idea of different fees for different courses

MOST students are in favour of having the same tuition fee for all degree courses, a study has found.

Young people reject the idea of different charges for different courses, with many also opposing lower fees for poorer students.

The findings come in a report by the Higher Education Policy Institute, which argues that the benefits of varying fees by degree are "largely illusory".

Overall, 63 per cent of those polled thought that full-time undergraduate courses should have the same fees, while one in three disagreed.

Before last year's assembly election, options for securing a sustainable higher education system in Northern Ireland were published. Annual fees ranging from £6,500 to £9,000 were being considered.

Full-time fees for home and EU students are currently £4,030 per year. Undergraduates from England, Scotland and Wales attending the north's institutions, however, pay more than £9,000.

When tuition costs were raised in Britain in 2012, it was expected that fees would vary, with ministers insisting institutions would only charge the maximum in "exceptional circumstances".

However, almost all full-time undergraduate courses in England are priced at the maximum of £9,250.

There appear to be fresh moves to look at differentiation, with education secretary Damian Hinds arguing that more variety is needed.

Asked to give their preference if differential fees were introduced, more than half (57 per cent) were in favour higher fees for courses that cost more to teach, 17 per cent for courses that lead to higher earning and 7 per cent for courses at more `famous' universities.

And 59 per cent of those polled opposed lower fees for poorer students, with 38 per cent in favour.

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