Mary Leishman

undergraduate education
m.leishman@uea.ac.uk

freeze the fees

For today only, we’re hosting our fake open day in Union House.  

‘Buy your degree here’ is a campaign against the proposal to raise tuition fees in line with the results of the TEF (the Teaching Excellence Framework).  

What is the TEF? 

The TEF is supposed to be a good thing. It’s supposed to measure the quality of teaching in Universities and FE colleges, and encourage institutions to improve.  

Where this becomes a problem is that the Government has proposed that the results of the TEF should dictate how much universities could raise their tuition fees above £9,000.  

The TEF will rank Universities as “Bronze”, “Silver” or “Gold” standard. Universities that score “Gold” can raise their fees more than those that score “Bronze”.  

This will not only affect new students, but those already studying there. For students continuing at UEA in September 2017, it looks like fees will be £9,250 per year, and for those still studying in 2020, they could be over £10,000 per year.  

Equality, what’s that? 

Since it’s the supposedly “better” universities that are allowed to raise their fees the highest, this is only going to exacerbate inequality in higher education. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds will be less likely to apply to top universities, and it will promote the idea that richer students can simply buy their way to a better degree.  

And, because it’s the “better” universities that will be able to charge more, they’ll be the ones raking in the extra money. They can then plumb this funding into making sure that they stay at the top of the TEF. They’ll be able to employ more staff (shrinking student/staff ratios) and afford better teaching facilities.  

The “Bronze” universities simply won’t be able to compete. They won’t be able to afford to. The TEF – which is supposed to be a system that encourages universities to improve – actually stratifies the system and makes it harder for universities to do better. It’ll keep certain universities at the top of the table, and others at the bottom.  

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