University announces tuition fees

University officials have announced tuition fees will be charged on an income-dependent scale from £3500 to £9000 per year for students starting undergraduate courses from 2012 onwards.

The University Council last week approved proposals under which most Oxford students will pay the maximum possible fee of £9000, with waivers to reduce the cost for those from households with an annual income of under £2500.

Based on the current mix of students at the university, around 16% of students will benefit from some level of fee waiver. Approximately 9.4% will receive the highest waiver, paying £3500 for their first year and £6000 for each subsequent year; students with a household income between £16000 and £25000 will be charged fees between £6000 and £8000.

In a letter to staff and students, University Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Hamilton said that the proposals “show the strength of our commitment to being accessible for all” despite the “deeply regrettable cuts to teaching funding”.

The university predicts that after taking into account cuts to teaching and capital funding, the higher fees will provide £10 million of extra annual income, of which £7 million will be “immediately reinvested in student support”, bringing the total spent on support and access schemes to £19 million per year.

In addition to spending on the provision of fee waivers, the university will spend an extra £750k on access and outreach work, £750k on on-course support including careers advice and provision for students with disabilities, and £290k on maintenance bursaries. Students with a household income of under £42000 will receive some form of bursary, with those from the poorest households getting £4300 in their first year and £3300 each year afterwards.

In an e-mail to college OUSU representatives and others who have helped in lobbying the university, OUSU president David Barclay said that Oxford is set to be “the most generous University in the country in its offer to the poorest and most under-represented students”. He said that the allowances made by the University “could never have happened without the co-ordinated efforts” of many students.

Barclay also said: “we now need more than ever to join together with the University and get out to schools and homes across the country to give the message that no student should be put off Oxford by the new fees system, and that if they have the talent Oxford will sacrifice to get them here.”

The press release accompanying the announcement of Oxford’s proposals emphasised the University’s desire to “attract applications from all individuals with the potential to study at the University”. An Access Agreement outlining how the University plans to increase the diversity of the student body has to be submitted to the Office For Fair Access (OFFA) by mid-April. The latest draft of the Agreement includes targets to increase the intake of students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds and neighbourhoods with low participation in Higher Education, but the figures are to be “milestones” to be aimed for rather than quotas which have to be met.

Oxford is one of seven universities that have so far announced plans to charge £9000 tuition fees, along with Durham, Exeter, Surrey, Essex, Imperial and Cambridge.