A recent report has shown that students at English universities pay the highest tuition fees in the world, followed by the USA and Japan.
According to a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), annual fees at universities in England stand at an average of £6,000, higher than those in the USA at £5,300 per year, and Japan at £3,300 per year. The study did not include fees for private universities.
Based on data from fifty different countries, the report was published just weeks after the UK’s Conservative Government announced plans to allow universities to increase tuition fees in line with inflation from 2017, providing that the quality of teaching and learning is improved.
Prior to the previous Coalition Government giving universities the option to increase fees to £9,000 per year, the UK was ranked as having the fifth most expensive tuition fees in the world, behind Chile, Korea, the USA, and Japan.
Speaking to The Student, second year Cellular and Molecular Biology student at Newcastle University, Oliver Burton, gave his views on the report.
He told The Student: “I worry for the sake of arts degrees with rising education costs. STEM subjects are receiving much more funding at present, relatively speaking, and we need to get away from this mentality that education needs to directly benefit the economy – it should be a matter of principle.”
Similarly, a second year theatre student at York St John University who wished to remain anonymous told The Student: “Tuition fees have risen to a level that is beginning to put students off attending university at all; most students are going to be paying off their student debts well into the later years of their lives. We need to find a solution so that every student gets a fair deal.”
Conversely, Sam Marks, a Chemical Engineering student at the University of Leeds believed that the high English tuition fees were justified: “Whilst on paper the tuition fees look like a lot of money, in practice I don’t think the increase makes much of a difference because of how you pay it back. I see it more like a graduate tax and I don’t mind if I pay a small proportion of my wage back each month to pay for future students.
“I think it’s most impoartant that prospective students from less privileged backgrounds realise that the increase in fees doesn’t mean they will be worse off at university. The change to tuition fees were just one change needed by a country with far too high public spending.
“On the other hand I do think the government needs to look at the maintenance grant, the way that’s distributed really doesn’t seem fair, especially to middle income families with quite a few children.”
The study by the OECD also showed that, behind Luxembourg, USA and Norway, the UK is the fourth highest spender on students among member nations of the OECD, spending £16,016 per student