Undergraduate tuition fees for UK and EU students at the University of East Anglia are expected to rise to £9,250 a year, subject to governmental approval.
The fee increase follows cuts to government grants to the university sector. A statement announcing the expected rise in fees on the Staff News section of the UEA website said that “income from student fees now represents almost half of UEA’s total income.” The announcement also claimed that “the additional income from this increase in fees is therefore essential to maintain UEA’s exceptional student experience and allow further investment in state-of-the-art facilities.”
The fee rise is a £250 increase from the consistent rate of £9,000 that UEA has charged students since 2012. The increase will apply from the start of academic year 2017-18 and will not affect students who have begun their studies prior to September 2017. The university has also stated that the rise is linked to government’s new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) which allows higher education institutions to charge higher fees depending on the performance of individual universities. This structure will take effect after 2017-2018.
SU Undergraduate Education Officer Theodore Antoniou-Philipps responded to the planned rise in fees, stating that UEA’s strong performance made this “inevitable.”
He said: “although we (UEA SU) are opposed to all fee increases in principle, we have known for some time that the government would raise the £9,000 fee by inflation once they introduced a Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)”.
Theo also stated that all high-performing institutions are increasing their fees and that “UEA’s strong performance in quality inspections made this inevitable. UEA SU are, however, pleased that following our lobbying the university has decided not to slap that increase onto 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students from next September, and are calling on UEA to promise the same guarantee for EU students when they become international students after Britain exits the EU”.
In discussion with Concrete regarding the issue of student finance in general, Theo said that while “the headline tuition fee is an important issue for undergraduate students, there are bigger problems. The cost of UEA’s on-campus accommodation has gone up by £500 in real terms in a decade, and UEA SU are calling on the university to get the cost of living on campus down and the Government to be prevented by law from changing loan repayment terms once you’ve signed the deal”.
UEA SU have also confirmed that UEA is already warning prospective students of the expected fee increases, in line with consumer guidelines.
The University of East Anglia responded to Concrete’s request for comment, stating that: “The University appreciates that any increase in tuition fees will be disappointing to students, but this must be understood in the context of a 71% drop in teaching grant funding from the government, from 2011/12 to 2016/17. Fee income is required to provide the excellent experience which students expect to receive and UEA is known to deliver. The decision is in line with the sector and we expect most universities who meet the criteria will raise fees, and some have already done so.
“This is the first increase to fees since 2012, and in real terms this means our income has been falling. The increase will be covered by student loans, which graduates will not have to start repaying until they are earning above the £21,000 threshold.”