University Council agrees proposed student tuition fees
11 April 2011
Dear University of Sheffield student,
Over recent weeks, a growing number of UK universities have announced proposed level of undergraduate tuition fees for UK and other EU students from 2012. Although the change in fees will not apply to you directly, I am well aware that it is a matter of very real concern to the student community. Many of you have wondered what fee level will be proposed here in Sheffield, particularly given the withdrawal of a significant proportion of public funding for undergraduate teaching.
As I expressed in my recent email to students, the University has been considering these issues not only in relation to price, but also in the light of the student experience, our academic values and quality, and the impact of any decisions on the particular community of students who come to the University of Sheffield.
Following a lengthy process of analysis and considerable debate, today the University of Sheffield Council has made the decision to propose a fee level which would be best able to replace reductions in government funding while ensuring we are able to deliver a consistently excellent education to students from all backgrounds. Specifically:
- Tuition fees for all full time UK/EU undergraduate students entering University of Sheffield courses in 2012 to be set at £9,000 except for non standard fees.
- Given the vital importance of widening participation, to seek approval from the Office for Fair Access for our Access Agreement in which we forecast to significantly expand our financial support, outreach and retention activities to £10 million in 2012. The proposed fee level is subject to approval by OFFA of this Access Agreement.
The fees for international students are unaffected by this decision and are subject to the normal annual review.
Support for broad access for students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds will be translated into a comprehensive package of financial support and outreach activities to help them benefit from study at the University of Sheffield, with ongoing monitoring to ensure that resources devoted to this are having the maximum impact. Specifically:
- More than one third of all our UK undergraduate students – over 6,000 each year – will be eligible for some form of financial support
- Bursaries will be available to all students with household income up to £42,000 and will be available as either cash or accommodation discount
- Spending on outreach and retention programmes will be doubled to £4 million each year
- Mature students from low income backgrounds will be further supported through fee reductions for our Foundation Programme in Combined Studies
- Students from low-participation backgrounds will receive more than £13,000 of aid from the University over the course of a three year degree
- Eligible students will also be able to experience University with a first year 100 per cent fee waiver
- In all £12 million will be spent on widening participation by 2015 (compared to £6.7 million per annum currently).
This decision on fees was only agreed by Council following months of consideration and debate – and despite deep concerns which are hard to resolve. The voice of students has been well represented during the discussions and consultations that have taken place over the past few months. The Council, in making its decision, was mindful of students´ wishes to see the fee set at the lowest possible level, consistent with the maintenance and enhancement of the student educational and wider experience.
Student Union Officers worked tirelessly to press home the vital importance of a high quality educational experience for students and to secure the highest possible contribution to our outreach and widening participation activities, so we can be sure that a University of Sheffield education continues to be available on the basis of talent rather than background and resources.
While the transfer of costs for higher education from public funds to graduates is deeply regrettable to many of us, one thing is clear. We now face a real challenge not of our choosing, but one which we owe it to future students to accept. At a time when many sectors of society are feeling the impact of cuts and young people are increasingly concerned about employment and debt, the University must demonstrate the long term value of investing in the kind of education we offer here in Sheffield. In the face of real concerns for the future, we must effectively deliver and communicate the positive worth of the University.
We will not do this by underestimating what this investment will mean to graduates, but rather by championing an education which is worthy of that investment. We will need to explain in simple terms what financial support is available to the many students who will be eligible for help. We will not turn away from our founding vision of a University of Sheffield `for the people´, but will hold a broad vision which will apply resources intelligently to nurture talent regardless of background.
We will do this, not because we have been forced to do so, but because these are our values regardless of circumstances. They are true of a University which unites the highest academic quality and impact on the world around us with a community which is down-to-earth and inclusive – a vision which I trust will hold for future students, despite today´s difficult decisions.
Professor Keith Burnett