Sunday Times Letter: Questioning University Fee Hikes

The Sunday Times, 28.08.16, leading independent Heads' have written to the Sunday Times questioning premature fee rises by some Universities ahead of demonstrating improvements to teaching quality.

It is hugely disappointing that many pupils are now facing unexpected university fee rises. Universities such as Durham and Kent have announced further tuition fee hikes for new students from next year, despite a clear message from the universities minister that such rises should be linked to future improvements in teaching. Exeter has gone as far as raising tuition fees for current students from next year. Surely this is likely to feel like mis-selling to those already in place and money-grabbing to future applicants.

While much teaching and student care in universities is excellent, too much is not, and the best universities should be setting an example in detailing planned improvements rather than raising fees. These new rates have been advertised before parliament has finished debating the minister’s proposals.We will advise our pupils to think clearly about their options and ask hard questions about how universities will link fee rises to clear improvements. It’s true that our schools charge fees — which have risen considerably — but we live and die by teaching quality and performance in external exams, and — crucially — there is a free state-funded alternative.

Chris Ramsey, The King’s School, Chester; Chris King, Leicester Grammar; Hilary French, Newcastle High School for Girls; Jane Lunnon, Wimbledon High School; Dr John Halliday, High School of Dundee; Stephen Jones, St Edward’s, Oxford; Nick Weaver, Ipswich School; Rod MacKinnon, Bristol Grammar School; Jeremy Walker, King’s Rochester

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