A number of University Vice-Chancellors, including the University of Bath’s head Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell, have declared any lowering of tuition fees “risks the quality of education for all”.
In a letter to The Times newspaper, twenty members of the Universities UK (UUK), a higher education advocacy group, declared that any reduction from the £9,000 tuition fee cap without additional funding from elsewhere would create instability within University accounts.
The news came after the Labour Party leader Ed Miliband suggested reducing the cap to £6,000, however the party has not officially backed the policy. The UUK say that such a move would leave a £10 billion gap in University finances.
Cuts in public spending and grants to higher education have remained a key concern of the University of Bath. Last year the University lost £7.9 million in grants from the national Funding Council and claimed the University is “likely to be affected by any change to government funding in future spending reviews”
A University of Bath spokesperson told bathimpact, “Our student funding system must be sustainable and support affordable, high-quality higher education. Any evolution of the current system in England should ensure value for money for students, prevent students from poorer backgrounds from being deterred from study, and be financially sustainable for both universities and government. A proposal to cut the fee cap does not help poorer students and risks the quality of education for all.”
Student activism surrounding the issue has recently increased, with two marches taking place in the city over the course of December and January, both drawing in over a hundred supporters.
The marches, organised by the Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts, paraded under the banner that “education is a right, not a privilege, and should be accessible to all.”
The University of Bath Students’ Union have also taken the decision to back calls for free higher education.
Labour are not the only party suggesting enticing policies to draw in the split student vote. The Greens have long stood on a platform of the abolition of tuition fees, whilst UKIP have vowed to reduce tuition fees for those studying the sciences, technology, maths and medicine.