Russell Group comment on tuition fee vote

09 December 2010

Commenting on the vote by MPs to reform university tuition fees, Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group of universities, said:

“We are relieved that this vote passed as we believe the Government's proposals for higher graduate contributions are now the only way of ensuring we maintain a world-class, fair and sustainable higher education system in England. 
“Given the far reaching cuts to university funding introduced by the current and previous Governments, higher graduate contributions are the fairest and only viable way forward. 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 funding. 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, their loan is written off after 30 years. So this repayment system protects both low-earners and those students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“Crucially, leading universities will continue to invest millions in initiatives designed to help the least advantaged students have the best possible chance of winning a place. We look forward to working with the Office for Fair Access, the Government and others to ensure the conditions for institutions charging more than £6,000 efficiently and effectively help meet our shared goal of widening access to leading universities for students from all backgrounds.
“We remain concerned about the funding shortfall our universities will have to work with before they have access to any new fee income. There is still much to be resolved but today was an important step in the right direction.” 

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