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UCU comment on rejection of Welsh universities' fee plans

15 June 2011 | last updated: 11 December 2015

UCU said today that the news that Welsh universities have had their initial plans for tuition fee rises rejected was worrying news for English institutions. The union said that the news will only 'add to the mess that is the government's failing fees policy'.

The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales has warned Welsh universities that their tuition fee plans will be rejected unless they improve efforts to widen participation and ensure students are not put off by higher fees.*
UCU said the news would be of particular interest to English universities as English students will be forced to take on even greater level of debts under the new fees regime. The Welsh Assembly Government is covering the rise in university tuition fees for Welsh students so they will continue to pay just over £3,000 a year. English students will have to pay the full fee as agreed by the individual university and the access regulator.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'If Welsh universities are being told that their access agreements are not up to scratch, then that must be very worrying news for English institutions. English students will rack up far higher levels of debt than Welsh students. Common sense suggests English universities will need to prove that they are doing even more to mitigate students' fears about the cost of courses and future debt.
'This extra confusion for English universities just adds to the mess that is the government's failing university funding policy. Unless the government uses the imminent publication of the white paper to pause on its catastrophic reforms then it will be staff, students and the UK's international reputation that suffer the most.'

* At a questioning session for minister for education and skills, Leighton Andrews AM, this afternoon the minister said that HEFCW chief executive, Phil Gummett, has written to all Welsh institutions who have submitted fees plans and told them that their plans will be rejected in their current format.

Leighton Andrews said that institutions have been warned that the current situation and fee plans will not be accepted. The minister also stated that they must observe the robust guidance from HEFCW and that the Welsh Government will be stronger on this issue than England.