May warns universities over high cost of tuition fees
Theresa May is to press ahead with attempts to force universities to charge less for some courses based on their costs and potential graduate earnings, despite critics within her own party and the higher education sector branding the move incoherent and unworkable.
Announcing a long-awaited review of education funding for over-18s in England, the prime minister will say that reserving university for the middle class and vocational training “for other people’s children” is outdated.
Her comments come after the new education secretary, Damian Hinds, hinted on Sunday that the review would recommend that some universities cut their fees for social science and humanities courses, particularly if recent graduates earned salaries below those of others.
In a speech in Derby on Monday afternoon, May will say that higher education institutions should change the existing structure whereby all undergraduate courses cost £9,250 a year in tuition fees.
“The competitive market between universities which the system of variable tuition fees envisaged has simply not emerged,” she is to say. “All but a handful of universities charge the maximum possible fees for undergraduate courses. Three-year courses remain the norm. And the level of fees charged do not relate to the cost or quality of the course. We now have one of the most expensive systems of university tuition in the world.”