Now there's market pressure for you - just FOUR universities cut tuition fees
OFFA has revealed today that just FOUR universities have cut the cost of their first degrees to squeeze in under the £7,500 tuition fee threshold set by the government.
The four are the University of Chester, the University of Cumbria, the Institute of Education and Teesside University. Sparsholt College is the one college to have reduced its fees.
These are the only institutions to have cut the price of their main undergradaute degrees for 2012 despite the introduction of the new "core-margin" policy intended to create a competitive market in higher education and drive down fees.
While 24 universities have agreed revised access agreements with the Office for Fair Access, most of them have only cut the cost of foundation courses or revised the subsidies they offer students. Bursaries (which don't reduce average fee levels) are out, fee waivers (which do) are in.
Across all the institutions that revised their access agreements, OFFA reports
- an increase of £37.4m in fee waivers
- a reduction of £13.8m in bursaries and scholarships
- a reduction of £2.1m in outreach and retention measures.
So the first results of the government's core-margin policy seems mixed. The market moves made by the government seem to be having relatively little effect so far. Yes, the amount of money being leant to students by the government is going to go down a bit. This will reduce the losses on the loan scheme for the government and make the whole thing a bit cheaper for the Treasury. But students won't be saving so much because fee waivers are often replacing bursaries. And many financial advicers think bursaries are better for students than waivers.
Ministers say it's only a start. But for now at least, the effect of the core-margin policy seems to be, er, marginal.