Oxford University has announced that home and EU students who began their course in or before the 2015–16 academic year will have their tuition fees capped at £9,000 for the remainder of their degree.
All of those who started at Oxford this academic year will see their fees rise by £250 next year. As The Oxford Student reported earlier this term, that figure may increase in line with inflation to £9,500 in 2018.
When passed through Parliament, the Higher Education Bill will allow universities to raise tuition fees in line with inflation. Earlier this year, Oxford’s University Council gave the go-ahead to raise fees to £9,250 for all home and EU students, including those already at the university.
The decision to freeze fees for current students follows a campaign by OUSU to stop the University from increasing the fees paid by current students. OUSU continually opposed the increases, commenting in a statement made in September that “We have made the case repeatedly that the fee increase is unfair and damaging, and have urged the University not to progress any further with this plan of action.”
Armed with a petition containing over 1,900 signatures, OUSU’s sabbatical officers continued to lobby for freezes in the fees. Following the announcement by Oxford, OUSU released a video entitled ‘Your Students’ Union Wins On Fees’. In it, spokespeople say that “With your support we argued strongly against the increase”, culminating in the decision which they call “A major win for students”. They argue that £2.1 million of student debt relating to Oxford students will be saved as a result of the decision.
Although pleased with the changes, they say that “the battle against the Teaching Excellence Framework continues. There is still more to be done.”
A spokesperson for Oxford University explained that the move reflects changes in the contract students signed when they joined: “For students who began their course in the academic year 2016–17, the University contract mentioned that tuition fees might rise in future years in response to changes in government policy. The same terms and conditions will appear in the University contract for students starting in the 2017–18 academic year. In view of this, the University considers it fair to apply the £9,250 inflationary fee rise to students in these year-groups.”