MPs approve rise in UK university tuition fees

The government’s plan to raise university tuition fees has got the green light from MPs, meaning future students may end up paying fees of up to £9,000 per year.

December 9th saw the controversial plan to raise UK university tuition fees approved by Westminster MPs, whilst across London protestors turned violent on the capital’s streets.

The motion raises the ceiling on annual tuition fees for English students to £9,000. The government says however, that such large amounts would only apply in exceptional circumstances where universities meet much tougher conditions on widening participation and fair access.

A second motion says the basic threshold for fees should rise to up to £6,000 a year - up from the current £3,290. This would be introduced for the 2012-13 academic year.

On a more positive note, any university that raises its annual fee above £6,000 must provide students with support such as offering bursaries, summer schools and outreach programmes, in order to encourage students from poorer backgrounds to apply.

Also poorer students may find themselves better off in the future as they could get up to two years of their fees paid for. However if a student’s parents aren’t receiving any government benefits they’re likely to be liable for the full cost, making them worse off than current students from the same background.

The government will continue to loan students the money for fees, and the amount a graduate will need to earn before they start paying the money back will rise from £15,000 to £21,000, with the threshold rising in line with inflation. When hitting this point, graduates will need to pay back nine per cent of their income above that threshold but if the debt is not cleared 30 years after graduation, it will be wiped out.

Although the House of Commons has approved the plans, they still need to be considered by the House of Lords and so are not yet a definite part of future student life.

Wondering what effect the rise in student tuition fees will have for future engineering students? We’re delving into what it will mean for you, so be sure to come back and read our upcoming analysis article.

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