University tuition fees of £5,000 would make England the most expensive country in the world to take a degree. An analysis of international data reveals that a small rise would push England to the top of a league table of the most costly places to study – overtaking nations including Iceland and the United States.
The University and College Union, which conducted the research, called on the Coalition to scrap a proposed tuition fee hike to avoid the “unenviable” tag.
Cost of student loans ‘could rise’ It comes just weeks before the publication of a major review of student finance which is likely to lead to a sharp rise in the cost of a degree.
Lord Browne, the former head of BP, is assessing the current system of tuition fees, student grants and Government-subsidised loans.
His report could lead to an increase in the existing £3,290 cap on tuition fees, with speculation that universities will be able to charge between £7,000 and £10,000.
But the latest report warned that England would become the most expensive place in the world to study if fees rose to just £5,000.
Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary, said: “England has much to be proud of when it comes to higher education. We are recognised as a leader both in research and teaching and continue to punch considerably above our weight. However, we do not want to be the most expensive country in the world for domestic students to do a degree.
“Students have been contributing more and more to the cost of a degree over recent years and now is the time to explore other options.”
The research – based on figures published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – analysed fees charged by publicly-funded universities around the world in 2006/07 or 2007/08.
These were compared with the annual tuition fee charged in England in 2007/08, which at that time was £3,070.
Average tuition fees charged by public institutions in the United States stood at £3,752 – although private universities can charge much higher fees – while in Norway fees reached £3,313.
This means that if England’s fees were to rise to £5,000 or more, it would take the country from fourth on the list to top.
The analysis shows that average fees across the 22 OECD nations studied stood at £1,427, while six of the countries, including Finland, Ireland and Denmark, charged no fees.
The UCU has called on the Coalition to seek alternatives to a tuition fee rise.