British minister reveals plan to cut university tuition fees

LONDON, Feb. 19

University tuition fees should partly be based on how a degree course could benefit a student’s future career, the British education secretary Damian Hinds said.

In an interview with the Times published Sunday, the newly appointed secretary said he wanted to see a system which would consider a course’s value for money to decide the level at which fees are set.

He hopes to see tuition fees slashed for arts and social science courses that do little to boost students’ careers.

“We have a system where you have got almost all institutions and almost all courses at those institutions charging exactly the same price. Some have higher returns to the student than others. It’s right that we now ask questions about how that system operates. I would like to see options available which have different costs,” he said.

He revealed that in the future the fee should be determined by “a combination of three things: the cost (to the university) to put it on, the benefit to the student and the benefit to our country and our economy”.

Under the plan, British universities will also be told to offer more two-year degrees and more “commuter courses” which may allow students to study at home so as to cut costs.

The education secretary’s comments come ahead of the government’s long-awaited review of university funding, which is expected to be announced this week.

It is likely the review will look at issues such as cutting or freezing tuition fees — which cost up to 9,250 pounds a year at English universities — as well as interest rates on loan repayments, which stand at up to 6.1 percent.

The review, pledged by Theresa May last autumn, comes amid growing debate about university finance, including student debt and whether students are getting value for money.


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