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Tuition Fees (Further Education)

Volume 888: debated on Tuesday 18 March 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he has given consideration to the level of tuition fees in institutions of higher or further education; and if he will make a statement.

Tuition fees were last changed in universities in 1967–68. They were last reviewed in further education institutions in 1971–72, although I am aware that many local education authorities have made subsequent adjustments. Since then there has been a sustained rise in the cost of courses, and this should be reflected in increased fees.Following consultations with the local authority associations, I am about to issue a circular to local education authorities recommending that from the academic year 1975–76 fees for full-time advanced level courses in further education should be increased by approximately £70, fees for full-time non-advanced courses by £50 and those for other courses by 20 per cent. above the level for the academic year 1972–73. The increases would apply equally to home and overseas students.So far as universities are concerned, I shall have to take corresponding increases into account in considering grants for the remaining two years of the quinquennium. The Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals and the University Grants Committee have constituted a joint working party to carry out a comprehensive review of the fee structure in universities, with the aim of introducing new arrangements, if possible in October 1976. I welcome this initiative, and my decision for 1975–76 will not prejudice consideration of the working party's study.Roughly one in ten of overseas students are assisted or are wholly paid for by the Ministry of Overseas Development as part of the aid programme. For these students the Ministry will pay the increased fee. Similarly the increased fees will be taken into account in making awards under the Ministry's Overseas Students Fees Awards Scheme.I realise that these fee increases may cause temporary hardship to some students. I am asking local education authorities and universities to exercise discretion in such cases, and to continue to exempt from fees full-time students under 18 in further education.