Russell Group call to stay on course for 2012 graduate contribution scheme

07 June 2011

Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group, said:

“It is crucial that there is no delay in the implementation of the graduate contribution scheme introduced by the Government. Cuts are imminent, and contributions from graduates are the fairest and most sustainable way to fill that gap. Without the new system, we would be facing almost 80% cuts to teaching funding, leaving us unable to maintain a quality education system, let alone keep up with our global competitors.

“We must work together and concentrate on making the proposed system work. There can be no turning back.

“We need to look behind the headline figures on the costs of fees and loans. In addition to the generous student support package provided by the Government, many Russell Group universities are offering generous fee waivers and bursaries to students from low-income backgrounds. Moreover, not all students will take out full loans and some may pay up front, helping limit the cost to the Treasury. But it is essential that the remaining HEFCE budget for high-cost subjects like Science, Medicine and Engineering is not cut to pay for any additional costs of the student support system. 

“Our leading institutions cannot continue to be internationally competitive, provide a first-rate teaching experience and offer generous support to disadvantaged students without access to increased fee income. Without increased funding, our universities risk relegation from the global premier league into the third division.

“With no upfront fees and a progressive repayment system, university will remain free to students, and excellent value for graduates. Graduates only pay back when they are earning £21,000 and even then, they only pay back 9% of their income above £21,000. And if they never earn enough to repay it, their loan is written off after 30 years. So this repayment system protects both low-earners and those students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

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