Universities discuss fee charges in East of England

Heads of universities in the East of England which are planning to charge the maximum fee have spoken to the BBC about their decision, the Politics Show in the East reports.

In the East, Cambridge University, the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the University of Essex all intend to charge the maximum £9,000.

The University of Bedfordshire wants to charge £9,000 for some of its courses.

The University of Hertfordshire wants to charge up to £8,500.

While the University College Suffolk and Anglia Ruskin University are aiming to charge between £8,000 and £8,500.

A decision on whether the changes will be approved will be made later in the year.

'Need for maximum'

With accommodation costs of around £4,000 a year to live in halls, and living costs of at least £3,000 a year, the cost of a three-year degree will be at best £43,500, at worst £48,000.

Professor Edward Acton, Vice Chancellor of the UEA, said: "Our approach was to look at our finances given the income streams that are going to be drastically reduced.

"Given the things that we have in the pipeline, planning to enhance the education, the employability, the whole student experience, the question was how much would we need?

"The conclusion is that we do need to charge the maximum and then we can provide very large fee waivers for those students from less well off backgrounds."

At the independent University of Buckingham, pupils have been funding themselves for years .

It has yet to set its fees for 2012, but it is expected to cost more than £9,000 a year to study there.

Terence Kealey, its vice chancellor, said: "The benefits are huge in terms of the living costs because in the third year when other people are still at university getting up debts, our students are working. We have a fantastic employability rate."

Offering students the chance to study for fewer years may be one way to ease the financial burden of higher education.

'Terrifying prospect'

Allowing universities to charge tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year has now left thousands wondering if university education is something they can afford.

One of the teenagers making this life changing decision is Jordan Bailey, a sixth former from Kenninghall in Norfolk.

He wants to be a politician and hopes to study in Bath or Nottingham, but is concerned at the cost.

"I think there are going to be so many people without jobs, houses aren't going to be bought because people aren't going to be able to get on the housing market because of their debts and it's going to be terrifying for people," he said.

Last year ministers said only a small number of universities would go down the route of charging the top fee

The reality now seems that many are opting to charge £9,000 a year.

As well as shorter courses, students of the future may choose to do their degrees closer to home at institutions such as Norwich City College.

But already there is controversy over some further education colleges offering so called "cut price" degrees.

Corrienne Peasgood, Norwich City College's vice principal, said: "We're very close to the University of East Anglia and we see our offer as not in competition to theirs but I think people will undoubtedly look to more vocational higher education."

The Politics Show in the East is broadcast at 1100 BST on Sunday.

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