The BBC reports that tuition fees in England are under intense scrutiny – with a huge amount of confusion about what is going to happen next. They’re meant to be increased even further – but there is a feeding frenzy of briefings suggesting that they are more likely to be reduced.
No one wants to be left holding an unpopular policy when the music stops – and Downing Street and the Treasury, as well as education ministers, will want a fee system that is more attractive to voters.
So what are the options?
1) Carry on regardless. The first decision is whether to stick with the current policy of increasing fees again to above £9,500 for 2018.
Students are already applying for these courses, but such is the political vacuum that no one can tell them how much it will cost. Sources within higher education are less vague. They say that the planned increase is “dead in the water” or “one for the birds” and universities are working on the assumption that fees will not be raised above £9,250.
2) Lower fees: The idea of fees being pitched lower than £9,250 has an initial political attraction in that it is a clear reduction in the headline figure. But would the government then be expected to pay universities for the lost revenue from fees?
Read more options Five things that could happen next with tuition fees
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