Hike in University Campus Suffolk tuition fees ‘may lead to dropouts’
STUDENTS paying the newly increased �8,000 fees to study at University Campus Suffolk (UCS) could drop out if they are not satisfied, the head of the Student's Union (SU) has warned.
UCS - which has students based at Lowestoft College - announced plans to hike tuition fees to �8,000 for Bachelor degrees and �7,500 for Foundation degrees yesterday, an increase of more than �4,000 compared with the �3,375 fees currently paid.
University bosses said the move reflects 'excellent value for money'.
But the SU president Andy Speed warned while it may not deter prospective students there is a danger it could make it harder for UCS to retain students.
The fees have been fixed for UK and European Union full-time undergraduates starting university in 2012, and were approved by the Office of Fair Access (OFFA).
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Professor Mike Saks, provost of UCS, said: 'We are a new, can do Higher Education Institution with very good facilities, and we plan to deliver the best higher education for Suffolk.
'Our fees represent excellent value for money and will enable us to cover our costs in an increasingly tightly run and cost-effective institution.
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'They should also allow us to deliver innovative initiatives to widen participation, improve our support and facilities for students, and build employability into the degree courses on offer.'
UCS's fees are below the average of �8,600 being charged by universities across the country, with researchers estimating just 11 institutions will charge �7,500 or less, while almost half will charge the maximum �9,000.
Mr Speed said he was 'taken by surprise' at the rise, but said UCS could not pitch their fees much lower than other rival institutions.
'We weren't involved in conversations beforehand,' he said. 'So I am waiting to find out a bit more, the devil will be in the detail.'
He said the university and college union had stated they believed fees would rise to �6,800 to account for the shortfall, now the Government will no longer be topping up the current fees.
'Effectively the extra �1,200 UCS will receive will go to making students' experiences better, boosting resources, recruiting new lecturers for example,' he added.
'I don't think the fee rise will affect applications, it is more likely to affect retention of students. I think a lot more students will drop out if they feel they are not getting value for money.
'UCS has wanted to expand, but I do question whether that is now going to be affected.
'The issue is going to be about balancing students' expectations.'
UCS has a network of centres across Suffolk and east Norfolk in Lowestoft, Bury St Edmunds, Great Yarmouth, Ipswich, and Otley. In Lowestoft, this means that all higher education students studying at the site of Lowestoft College are studying with UCS Lowestoft.