Leeds: University under fire on fees by minister

David Willets. PIC: PA

David Willets. PIC: PA

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THE University of Leeds does not need to charge students £9,000 a year to fill a funding gap left by government cuts, a minister had said.

David Willets, the universities minister, insisted institutions should only charge the maximum tuition fees allowed under the government’s reforms under “exceptional” circumstances.

The YEP revealed earlier this week that Leeds University has become the fifth in the country to propose a fee increase next year which will result in a three-year degree course costing £27,000.

University bosses say the increase is required because of cuts to the teaching grant and to continue investment.

But speaking to the YEP, Mr Willets said: “On our calculations, you do not need fees to go as high as £9,000 to replace the teaching grant as that is reduced.”

And he went on to defend the government’s reforms, saying: “It’s cash for universities. It’s students getting a higher quality education rather than losing places and having a mediocre university experience and it’s good for the exchequer because the graduate pays.”

Universities planning to charge more than £6,000 must get permission to do so from the Office for Fair Access (OFFA).

Leeds University proposes that students from households with incomes below £25,000 will be able to choose either a £3,000 fee waiver, a cash award or a contribution towards accommodation.

Students with household incomes between £25,000 and £42,000 will be eligible for support worth £500, £1,000 or £1,500.

Jack Cheyette, welfare officer at the University of Leeds students union, said a survey of current students found that half would not have studied at Leeds if annual tuition fees had been £9,000.

The fee hike is expected to be approved at a meeting of the University’s governing Council on March 31.

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