Heads attack rise in student fees

28 August 2016
Posted by Heidi Salmons

The Times, 28.08.16, a group of independent school head teachers today accuse universities of “money-grabbing” by raising fees without first improving the quality of their teaching. HMC Head Chris Ramsey, headmaster of leading independent The King's School, Chester and Chair of the HMC/GSA Universities Committee is quoted.

In a letter to The Sunday Times they criticise Durham and Kent universities for announcing tuition fee increases of £250 to £9,250 for new students in 2017, and single out Exeter for hiking fees for existing students.

The heads say much teaching and student care is excellent but “too much is not”, adding that “the best universities should be setting an example in detailing planned improvements rather than taking the earliest opportunity to raise fees”.

Chris Ramsey, headmaster of the King’s School, Chester, and lead signatory of the letter, has separately accused universities of “downright cheek” for jumping the gun on proposals that would allow institutions that demonstrate improved teaching quality to charge higher fees.

Ramsey, who is university spokesman for the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, writes in a blog: “The bill is not yet law and the new framework does not yet even exist. But some universities are putting up their fees anyway, presumably in the lofty assumption that their teaching is really rather good already.”

Ramsey said they had made a mockery of the teaching excellence framework, set up by Jo Johnson, the universities minister, and intended to force institutions to focus on teaching before being allowed to raise fees.

He warned that students might vote with their feet.

“A UK student can still study at Maastricht for €1,984 [£1,691] per year, and €7,500 when the student comes without subsidy,” he wrote. “The first student from King’s Chester will be heading for Maastricht in September.”

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