At NUSU, we know that tuition fees are one of your main concerns. As a Union, we’re opposed to any increase in tuition fees. We hope that the FAQ below will answer the main questions you might have about tuition fees in England.
If you have further questions about tuition fees or the Higher Education landscape more generally you can contact Joe Barton (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you require personal advice and guidance on finance and fees related issues, you can contact our impartial Student Advice Centre.
Who sets tuition fee rates for English universities?
The UK Government sets the fee rate for undergraduate programmes for UK and EU students. This is currently capped at £9250 per year. This is enforced by Office for Students (OfS), which is the regulatory and competition authority for Higher Education in England.
Individual English universities are free to set their own fee rate for non-EU students enrolled on undergraduate programmes. There is no upper limit. For 2018/19, full-time fee rates for non-EU students at Newcastle University range from £16000 and £21000 per year depending on the degree programme.
Individual English universities are also free to set their own fee rates for postgraduate taught and research programmes.
For 2018/19, full time fee rates at Newcastle University range from £7200 to £31000 per year depending on the degree programme and whether a student is from the either the UK/EU or a non-UK/EU country.
What will be the tuition fee rates for undergraduate students for 2018/19?
UK students: £9250
EU students: £9250
Non UK/EU students: Variable (£16000-£21000)
What about for 2019/20?
UK students: £9250
EU students: £9250 (the Government has pledged to freeze fees 2019/20).
Non UK/EU students: unknown, but most likely to rise in line with inflation.
What about 2020/21?
No one knows! The Government has not made any announcements regarding 2020/21 fee rates.
One important factor for the future of tuition fees will be the recommendations of the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding. This is an independent review of tertiary level education which is currently being carried out on behalf of the Government. Its remit includes fees and funding. It plans to publish its recommendations in late winter/early spring 2019. You can find out more about the Review here.
It is worth pointing out however, that the UK Government may not adopt the recommendations of this Review just as, in 2010, the Government did not adopt the recommendation of the Brown Report to remove the cap on tuition fees but, rather, opted to raise the upper limit to £9000.
Moreover, given the time that any such legislation would take to come into effect, it is unlikely that tuition fee rates for UK students in 2020/21 will be radically different than they are currently.
Another important factor for EU students is Brexit. Currently, fee rates for EU students are the same as UK students. While the Government has pledged to freeze this rate for the first year following the UK’s exit from the EU, there is currently no guarantee that this arrangement will remain in place in the long term. In its White Paper, the Government outlines its aspiration to maintain “reciprocal arrangements” for UK and EU students regarding travel status but makes no reference to fee arrangements.
Are tuition fees linked to the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)?
Yes, for now. The Teaching Excellence Framework, or TEF, is a Government measure of teaching quality for undergraduate programmes at English Universities. It is managed by the OfS. In 2016/17, English universities must participate in the TEF in order to be able to raise their fees up to the amount capped by OfS.
As a result of participating in the 2016/17 TEF assessment, Newcastle University was awarded a ‘Gold’ rating which will expire in 2020. Because the ability to raise fees is linked to participation in the TEF, the particular rating a university receives (Gold/Silver/Bronze) does not affect how much it can charge. By law, the TEF must undergo an independent review next year. It is not known what impact the result of this review might have on a university’s ability to raise fees, if at all.
NUSU is opposed to the TEF, both because of its link to tuition fees and because of our concerns about the validity of the metrics it uses to measure teaching ‘excellence’, such as completion rates and employment outcomes. A motion was passed at the February 2017 meeting of Student Council which mandates NUSU to oppose the TEF. However, NUSU’s Education Officer and Representation and Research Coordinator attend University meetings about the TEF to represent the student voice and ensure that students are kept up to date on developments.
What is NUSU’s position on tuition fees?
NUSU is opposed to any increase in tuition fees. This is the result of a motion passed at the December 2013 meeting of NUSU’s Student Council which mandated “all NUSU Officers to highlight NUSU’s opposition to increased tuition fees, whenever it is appropriate to do so.”
How NUSU has made your university experience more affordable?
Although NUSU cannot stop fees from increasing, we can make a difference on campus. Here are some recent examples of how we’ve made Newcastle more affordable. Be sure to check our website for updates on our affordability agenda:
- In 2017/18 we negotiated a £3 meal deal, extension of Swipee rewards and Eat@Newcastle giveaways which saved students £10000 over academic year.
- We secured funding to ensure that Newcastle University students will be able to access the 36 and 63 Stagecoach buses for free from Fenham Hall Drive to St Mary's College if they show their student card.
- We secured funding for free gown hire for all students graduating at July and December 2018 congregations.