Undergraduate tuition fees will rise to £9,250 per year from October 2017, after which they will continue to rise in line with inflation, Oxford University has announced. Although the government’s student finance system will continue to extend loans covering the full amount for UK students, this change will represent for many a significant increase in the burden of debt that they will have to take on in order to attend Oxford.
The news was met with mixed responses from Oxford students. As might be expected, some reacted with anger and disappointment.
The news was met with mixed responses from Oxford students. As might be expected, some reacted with anger and disappointment. Naomi Packer, a first year lawyer at Exeter, expressed her distaste for the change: “Government policies towards higher education are founded on a twisted ideology, not logic. However, it should be the responsibility of higher institutions like Oxford to protest against this ideology by refusing to raise their fees.”
She also noted the university’s wealth, and said that in the context of Oxford’s “supposed support of encouraging students from all backgrounds to apply, this change feels both hypocritical and ill-founded.”
Not all those who commented viewed the fee rise with such hostility.
Not all those who commented viewed the fee rise with such hostility. Redha Rubaie, second year PPEist, felt that the tuition fee rise “is not what will serve to be the biggest barrier to higher education.” Instead, Mr Rubaie claimed, it is “the inability for bright students to afford the month to month living costs of places like London or Oxford that disincentivises the most”. According to Mr Rubaie, “universities should focus on making more funds available for bright working class kids to live in these cities.”
Daniel Antonio Villar, an American first year biologist at Wadham, had little sympathy for those complaining about the fee increase. “Those who are whining about paying £9250 per annum for what is likely the finest education on earth are nuts,” he told the OxStu. “Oxford is still relatively cheap for Britons. I’d just say that they should look at things in perspective… even at an international student’s rate, which is what I pay, Oxford is a bargain, and there’s no way in the current climate for Oxford to continue without increasing tuition to a level which, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t that high.”
David Pearson, a second year biologist, took greater issue with the specifics of the government’s fee regulations than with the raising of costs by Oxford in particular. “I oppose the raise in tuition fees, not because I am against tuition fees in principle, but because it defeats the objective it aims to achieve. Seeing as the government plans to allow only universities with the best teaching to raise their fees, disadvantaged pupils will incur a significant direct financial cost if they perform well enough to attend a top university. This creates a perverse incentive for hard work and sets a worrying precedent in which the benefits of a top degree may be offset by the increased cost to disadvantaged pupils.”
The university justified the move by arguing that it was a return to a previous arrangement, and that the recent freezing of fees at £9000/year was unsustainable.
The university justified the move by arguing that it was a return to a previous arrangement, and that the recent freezing of fees at £9000/year was unsustainable. A request for comment from the university press office yielded the following statement: ‘Oxford University’s decision to increase fees in line with inflation was taken after full discussion in Council. University fees in the UK were previously linked to inflation but have been frozen for the past four years. Like many other institutions, Oxford faces increasing costs to deliver our pre-eminent tutorial system of education. The increase in fee income will also go to fund our essential admissions outreach work. We already spend more additional fee income on this than almost any other university in the country and we are committed to increasing and extending it to give ever more students the best possible chance of an Oxford education.’