A fifth of UK universities have been given the nod to reduce their fees in 2012 by an average of £39. The decision, made in light of the looming UCAS deadline, has been announced by 24 universities and one further education college according to the Office for Fair Access (Offa), the government's higher education access watchdog.

With 47 universities originally intending to charge the full £9000 a year tuition fees, the average cost to students has now dropped from £8393 to £8354.

London South Bank, Aston, St Mary's, Teesside, Wolverhampton, Southampton Solent and nearby Nottingham Trent are amongst those deciding to charge less than £7,500; making them eligible to bid for a share of 20,000 extra full-time undergraduate places.

This reduced cost is due to switching from bursaries and including fee waivers for high-flying students or those from disadvantaged homes.

Around £70m will be saved by institutions who will instead forgo a year of tuition fees for certain students rather than offering sums of money to help with maintenance; something that has angered those within the National Union of Students (NUS).

President of the NUS, Liam Burns said fee waivers were a “con trick". They essentially reduce a loan that some students may not need to repay in full if they never earn enough to pay off their student loan. Bursaries alternatively, assist students while they study.

He argued; "They help the Treasury, who have to spend less on loans but are of no benefit to students whatsoever."

The decision following the incentive from coalition ministers is set to send thousands of UCAS applicants into confusion. Offa stated those having already applied for a place at participating universities will be told they will receive information of the changes by Wednesday. This would give applicants the opportunity to decide whether to apply elsewhere before the deadline of 15 January, the watchdog said.


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