The National Union of Students (NUS) has said that a report released today (Thursday) by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) was further damning evidence that the government changes to higher education funding were fundamentally flawed.
The report, which comes as the first cohort of students under the new regime are in their first term at university, finds that as was widely expected by many commentators that the average fee level would be much higher than the government predicted and that assumptions about the ability of graduates to repay their loans were incorrect.
Ministers initially said that fees over £6,000 per year would be the exception rather than the rule. They were later forced to revise this figure up to £7,500 but the average fee level is actually £8,234 per year. The Office for Budget Responsibility has calculated that the rise in fees will add 0.2 to inflation and HEPI calculates this could add as much £1.14billion to the cost of benefits which are linked to inflation.
Liam Burns, NUS President, said:
“The government has told us these changes needed to be made to save money but despite the tripling of tuition fees their system costs the treasury billions more and creates even more instability for universities.
“In their rush to abdicate their responsibility for funding higher education the coalition got their sums badly wrong and have left a mess that will take years to fix.
“Higher education funding must be a key issue at the next general election and politicians of all parties must come together to recognise the public benefit it brings and the proper investment it requires.
On November 21st 2012 students from around the country will come together in London to demonstrate against the impact of the government’s austerity agenda on students. For details on #Demo2012 go to www.demo2012.org.uk. Educate. Employ. Empower.
NUS (National Union of Students) is a voluntary membership organisation which makes a real difference to the lives of students and its member students' unions.
We are a confederation of 600 students' unions, amounting to more than 95 per cent of all higher and further education unions in the UK. Through our member students' unions, we represent the interests of more than seven million students.