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Top British universities planning to charge students record-breaking tuition fees next year

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Almost half of the Russell Group of universities are expecting to put up the charges beyond the current limit

August 14, 2016: Britain’s most prestigious universities are planning to charge students record-breaking tuition fees of £9,250 next year, The Telegraph can reveal.

From 2017, universities providing the highest quality teaching are expected to be given new powers to increase the maximum fees they can charge by inflation, in what will be the first rise for five years.

A Telegraph survey found that almost half of the Russell Group of leading research universities are expecting to put up the charges beyond the current limit of £9,000 a year.

This is despite the fact that the law allowing universities to increase their undergraduate fees has not yet been agreed by MPs.

Most of the 20 Russell Group institutions in England who would be affected by the new rules have not publicly declared any plans for fee levels next year.

Since 2012, tuition fees have been capped at a maximum level of £9,000 a year for undergraduate courses
Since 2012, tuition fees have been capped at a maximum level of £9,000 a year for undergraduate courses

However, eight universities in the elite club have indicated that they are likely to raise fees in 2017, while two others have said they are waiting for the final policy to emerge before they decide.

The plans emerged as hundreds of thousands of A-level students await their results this week. Their grades, on Thursday, will determine whether they have successfully won places on degree courses.

The rise in fees next year could intensify the scramble for places through Clearing this year, if candidates do not want to re-apply for more expensive courses starting in 2017.

However, some universities could increase fees for students who have already started their degrees, before the law changes, depending on the terms of their individual course contracts.

A survey of Russell Group universities’ plans, outlined on their websites, found that Bristol, Durham, Exeter and Nottingham intended to charge undergraduates £9,250 for courses starting in September 2017.

This represents a 2.8 per cent increase in fees, in line with forecasts of inflation. Fees would rise again by inflation in the subsequent years of students’ courses.

King’s College London, the London School of Economics, Liverpool University and Newcastle University also indicated that their fees could rise with inflation in future.

Two more Russell Group institutions, Southampton and Warwick, stated that their fees for 2017 would be set once Parliament had agreed the new inflation policy.

Since 2012, tuition fees have been capped at a maximum level of £9,000 a year for undergraduate courses. Concerns have been raised that students in some cases are not getting value for money, as the majority of universities now charge the highest possible level.

Government reforms will introduce a requirement for limiting fee increases to only those universities scoring the highest marks on a new test of teaching quality. Russell Group universities, which set some of the toughest entry grade requirements, expect to be rated highly for their teaching, enabling them to put up fees.

The Russell Group says fees must rise because they do not cover the full cost of courses. The group has warned the universities face a funding shortfall of £72.5 million every year in teaching expensive subjects such as science and engineering.

By Tim Ross