Cost of studying for a degree to double by 2012

The annual cost of studying for a degree will double by 2012 - having already risen 300 per cent since 1988, through a combination of grant cuts, rising living costs and tuition fees, which the government last week confirmed would increase to a maximum £9,000 per year. The news comes as thousands of students prepare to march on Westminster today to protest the coalition's "looming, savage education cuts".

The annual cost of studying for a degree will double by 2012 – having already quadrupled since 1988, through a combination of grant cuts, rising living costs and tuition fees, which the government last week confirmed would increase to a maximum £9,000 per year. The news comes as thousands of students prepare to march on Westminster today to protest the coalition’s “looming, savage education cuts”.

The figures, from the University and College Union (UCU), show that, in contrast with the 312 per cent increase in the cost of studying for a degree (fees + living costs – grants), the cost of everyday household items rose by 127 per cent. Student/staff ratios have also risen in recent years – in 1988, the ratio was 12.6:1; in 2008/9, the ratio was 16.3:1.

The union says the plans to raise fees to £9,000 would be “the final nail in the coffin of affordable university education” and “the end of genuine choice of degree” for thousands of people, adding 16-19 year olds would also be hit by the scrapping of the Educational Maintenance Allowance.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said:

“Politicians have consistently let students down over the years. However, these latest set of proposals go too far. If implemented, the government’s plans will completely change the landscape of further and higher education…

The rest of the world is investing in education yet we’re doing the opposite. College grants that are often the difference between some students being able to study or not – the EMA – are being axed and university students are expected to shoulder the burden of punitive cuts to teaching grants.”

Last week, Left Foot Forward reported on the complete abolition of teaching grants to 24 UK universities, including the LSE and SOAS, following universities minister David Willetts’s admission state funding funding of arts, humanities and social sciences degrees would be scrapped. It was also revealed that 73 universities will see their teaching budgets cut by more than three quarters.

Furthermore, the National Union of Students (NUS) last week said the fees hike “will deter four-in-five students“, while last month, Left Foot Forward’s Will Straw revealed that bankers would fare better than public servants under Lord Browne’s plans, that, although those on lower incomes will pay back a smaller proportion of their loans, graduates in top paying jobs will end up making smaller contributions than students on middle incomes.

• More information on today’s demo can be found at www.demo2010.org.

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