The government is set to decide within weeks whether to agree to the rise of tuition fees to £9500 for the academic year 2018-19. The increase, linked to Brexit-related inflation, would set back students from poorer backgrounds the most.
This comes after the tuition fee rise to £9,250 for students incoming for 2017-18, with universities free to continue to raise tuition costs until 2020. In April of this year Parliament introduced the Higher Education and Research Bill, allowing the rise, after the controversial Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), monitoring quality and allowing rises accordingly, is under review until 2020, freeing universities to raise fees every year until it comes into force.
Last year, living cost grants in England were scrapped and replaced with loans, with the Institute for Fiscal Studies estimating that poorest families would be burdened with the heaviest debt, of around £57,000, not taking into account any future rise over the coming years.
Students are already under increasing pressure in their repayments, as a interest rates are set to rise to 6.1%, an increase of nearly a third, when personal loans are readily available with rats as low as 2.8% on the high street.
Currently only graduates with the highest salaries are expected to afford the repayments in the 30-year period, and it is still uncertain how this ‘black hole’ of debt could be met.