Ministers wrong on tuition fees, says university chief
Liverpool John Moores is one of the English universities applying to charge the maximum £9,000 for all its courses.
Vice-chancellor Professor Michael Brown said universities would struggle to keep the figure down to the £6,000 ministers want in normal circumstances.
The government said universities could do more to increase efficiency to keep the amount they charge in fees down.
The government also said its figures related to all higher education establishments, not just universities.
Universities in England will be able to charge £6,000 for undergraduate courses from 2012, and up to £9,000 in “exceptional cases”.
Professor Brown told the BBC’s North West Politics Show the government had got its sums wrong and his university could not maintain the quality of its courses without charging the maximum fee.
“We’re in pretty lean form as a university and yet the calculation we do is: we charge £6,000, we’ll lose £26m. We can’t do it,” he said.
Asked whether this meant no university could charge the government’s preferred £6,000, he replied: “If they do, I don’t think they’ll be around for very long, and they’ll be a very different institution in a few years’ time with that under-investment.”
With the intentions of 24 universities declared, the majority intend to charge fees of £9,000 for their undergraduate degree courses.
The government had modelled its plans for university funding on an estimate that universities would charge £7,500 for fees on average.
Ministers have warned that further cuts might be made to university teaching budgets if too many universities plump for higher amounts.
Originally, it had said it expected universities to charge £9,000 only in “exceptional circumstances”, but universities are independent bodies and most say they need to charge maximum fees to make up for cuts to their teaching grants.
The government’s changes to university funding are based on the idea that fees will rise and replace money being taken from teaching budgets.
Please send further updates to firstname.lastname@example.org