Note: Cambridge and Oxford tuition fees have risen since the initial cap rise in 2012. First time, UK-based students attending Oxford and Cambridge during 2020 can expect to pay £9,250 for the year.
If you’re going to be applying to university this year, then increasing tuition fees are likely to be on your mind. Following many protests, a few inter-party fallings out and some rather hazardous political U-turns, the government decided to raise the cap on University tuition fees and charge undergraduates up to £9,000 per year for their studies.
Even if you have your ear carefully pressed to the ground, the rapid changes and constant to-ing and fro-ing may have left you a little confused. Never fear! Read on to find out everything you need to know about the tuition fee rises, how they will affect you and what you can do to make things a little bit easier once you graduate.
From 2012 onwards, universities have been allowed to charge students up to £9,000. Originally this number was only allowed to be charged in ‘exceptional circumstances’, such as if it was an intensive 2-year degree but universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, Exeter and Durham now all charge the full fee rate, arguing that their degrees are worth this sum of money. More universities have joined them over the years and now, a £9,000 fee is what you should expect to pay.
Fortunately, regulations by the Office of Fair Access demanded that a proportion of fees charged over £6,000 be dedicated to widening access and giving scholarships and bursaries to poorer students. However, even with the positives of these increased fees, a graduate who spent 3 years at university paying £9,000 per year could come out with a debt of up to £38,000 once maintenance loans are accounted for. On the brighter side, it is estimated that the poorest students will pay less in future than they do now.
Currently, graduates have to pay a percentage of their salary above a certain threshold. This has been increased from the original £15,000 p.a to £26,575 and graduates are required to pay 9% of their salary above this for 30 years. After 30 years, if the debt hasn’t been paid, it is written off (Just as their kids start going to university! Oh the irony!). The amount graduates have to be earning before they start paying is adjusted according to inflation every year, so as £26,575 buys less, the threshold for paying back the loan will increase.
All in all, this means that if you earn say, £30,000 per annum, you will have to pay around £225 per month to pay off your debt. Experts have already predicted that only 50% graduates will be able to pay off their loan within 30 years: at the moment, you would need to be earning a salary averaging £48,850 over 30 years in order to pay back your loan in 26 years – and that’s only if you’re being charged £7,500 per year. There are also likely to be penalties for people trying to pay off their debt faster and it is even estimated that 10% of graduates will actually pay off more than they borrowed.
In short, Cambridge, Oxford and general university fees increased because of the recession. Years of rising government investment, which saw many more students going to university, gave way to necessary spending cuts. In addition, it now costs around £7,000 per year to teach an undergraduate degree (and the tutorial-style system of teaching at Oxford and Cambridge as well as Medicine and Science subjects are even more expensive). Currently, 29% of the universities’ funding comes from fees, a further 35% comes from the government and the rest from donations and endowments. The government had to cut the amount of money they give to universities and the students needed to make up the shortfall.
There are certain things that may make you feel a bit happier if you are worried about how much you will have to pay. Some graduate employers can be very generous, offering to pay for scholarships and student tuition, as well as offering jobs afterwards.
Many other large graduate recruiters are set to follow suit as their generous schemes will guarantee them the best graduates. This is definitely something worth keeping an eye on before you begin university and whilst you are there. If you’re worried about how much you will have to pay, it’s worth getting all the information you can. Speak to your school’s careers department and the universities you are thinking of applying to and find out whether you are eligible for any bursaries or scholarships.
If you’re thinking of applying to Oxford or Cambridge, give us a call and we’ll try to give you any information we have from our own experiences.