University fees set to soar

There were warnings last night that rising university fees could bar people in East Anglia from higher education.

There were warnings last night that rising university fees could bar people in East Anglia from higher education.

A survey of university vice-chancellors suggests that they expect tuition fees to double to £6,000 when the current system is reviewed in 2009 - and could rise as high as £10,000 a year for some courses.

The Guardian survey of vice-chancellors, to which more than 40 of the country's 100 universities replied, showed that most thought fees would rise. Teaching costs have been going up, and science courses are likely to prove the most expensive of all.

At City College Norwich, students on full-time higher education (HE) courses receive a UEA degree, and pay a tuition fee of £3,000 a year.

The college provides bursaries for those students of £1,000 for the first year, £900 for the second year and £800 for the third year.

Rob Fiddy, dean of the Faculty for Higher Education at City College Norwich, said: "Beyond 2010, it would seem inevitable that tuition fees will rise and that student loans will do so commensurately.

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"Our concern is that people from low-income backgrounds may suffer disproportionately from such an increase and this would seem to fly in the face of the government's widening participation in HE agenda which we have been working hard to address."

John Barnes, of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers in Norfolk, said he was worried that fees would rise, and that more expensive science degrees in particular would cause a real problem.

"If we are going to go back to the days when higher education was only for the wealthy that would be a retrograde step," he said.

Yesterday the final figures for entry into higher education last year showed a 4.5pc drop in students.

Higher education minister Bill Rammell said: "We were told that variable fees would lead to applications plummeting, particularly from young people from less well-off backgrounds. Well, that isn't happening, in fact there is a slight increase in the proportion of students entering university from these backgrounds."

No-one at UEA was able to comment yesterday.