Loughborough University has announced plans to increase the tuition fees that it charges per student to £9,000 a year for full-time undergraduate students.
Prospective students wishing to study at Loughborough from 2012 will be struck by the hike in fees which have come as a result of a Parliamentary decision to remove a cap on tuition fees.
The announcement means that Loughborough, a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities, has adopted the upper tier proposal that was set out by the government following the findings of the Browne Review.
The Browne Review caused outrage among students as over 50,000 people marched in protest through London’s most famous streets back on November 10, 2010. [[videosmall|490]]
The report by Lord Browne caused controversy within the Coalition Government as the Liberal Democrats were criticised by the National Union of Students (NUS) for going against a pledge that was made to protect student fees.
To ease the blow to future students, Loughborough has affirmed its commitment to provide a range of financial support systems for students from less well-off backgrounds.
In 2012/13 almost £2 million will be budgeted to help these students with this figure rising to over £7 million a year by 2015-16.
For the poorest of students £3,000 worth of financial help will be available for each year of their studies. This includes an accommodation discount of £1,000 a year which can be spent on the University's own Halls of Residence.
The news comes just weeks after the University was named the best for student experience for a fifth consecutive year however the 2009 Times University of the year slipped down four places on the same newspapers ranking table in 2011.
However, the Vice Chancellor of Loughborough University, Professor Shirley Pearce said the proposed increase to fees reflected the all-round experience and the high quality of education the University offers to its students.
Miss Pearce said: “The Loughborough Student Experience, which has topped the national league table every year since the poll began, equips our students and graduates for every aspect of their life and career.
“We integrate research and teaching at every opportunity to provide the very best learning environment, and the work experience placements enjoyed by a high proportion of our students help to ensure that Loughborough graduates are consistently targeted by the UK’s top recruiters.”
Professor Pearce was also keen to stress that the added revenues from fees must be compared to the higher education cuts the University has suffered from.
“This will not be ‘additional’ income,” she said. “We do believe, however, that a fee of £9,000 will help us to enhance still further the high quality of education and experience we offer Loughborough students. The support package we have outlined will also ensure that qualified students have the opportunity to study at Loughborough, irrespective of their background or their ability to pay.”
President of Loughborough Students’ Union, Lucy Hopkins, believes the upper-tier fee will help maintain Loughborough’s position as one of the leading higher education institutions in the country.
“The Loughborough Student Experience is the best in the country and the University is committed to improving it still further for future students.
“It will also continue to enhance the quality of its teaching to ensure that students right across the University benefit from the very best learning experience.
“The University’s plans will make sure that this fantastic experience is available to students, based solely on their academic capability and not their ability to pay. This sentiment has always been very much at the centre of our partnership.”
It is apparent that the proposals of charging £9,000 a year, which were agreed by the University’s Council on April 1 and are currently subject to approval by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA), will keep the University akin to other top universities across the country and therefore it is believed its reputation will be maintained.
Miss Hopkins also responded to the fees increase by explaining how the Students’ Union will fight for the best usage of these funds so that all students will have equal opportunities and the best equipment for their course as possible.
These include; making sure any minimum requirement to get a degree is mandatory within the course and should not require further expense, unifying a credit system for printing, books, materials or field trips and ensuring that bursaries are in place for poorer students to access
The Union will also attempt to pursue an improved ground-breaking feedback system for students ensuring that every student’s voice is heard.
Miss Hopkins announced on Lufbra.net: “We have been pushing for a completely new feedback system where the students own the feedback. Run by the Voice Department in the Students Union, professional staff will help support programme reps, collate the feedback, disseminate it and report back to both the University and the students.
“This means an independent body can watch progression of departments over time and see where changes need to be made, and where things are going right.
“Feedback is one of the biggest problems for all Universities, and this would transform the situation for students. The data this would produce could change everyone for departments, and for the students in them.
“Some departments, students felt were already worth £9000, but in some the balance needed to be readdressed between research and learning.
“The University is keen to work with us in making excellence consistent across the board, and that is why Our Lufbra was so fantastic. It showed the issues in individual departments.”