The organisation in charge of university access has published final tuition fee plans for universities in England. The announcement shows that the average rate for higher education in 2012 will be £8,500 a year, just under the maximum allowed tuition of £9,000.
The move to nearly treble tuition fees has sparked waves of student protest and outrage nationwide when the proposals were introduced early in 2011. The proposals also made the minimum tuition for university degrees £6,000, already almost double the current tuition rate of £3,290.
The government maintained that the minimum £6,000 tuition rate would be the most prevalent cost of higher education, and that the £9,000 per year maximum would be allowed only in exceptional circumstances, such as to fund expensive research programmes.
These rates were defended, as medical and scientific research would lead to careers that allowed students to pay back their higher student loans.
However, as individual institutions were allowed to decide their own rates, data shows that the majority of courses are trending towards the top rate.
It is now confirmed that a massive 58% of higher education institutions will be charging the maximum rate for at least some of their courses. Even more troubling is the 38% of institutions that will charge the top rate of £9,000 for each and every one of their course offerings.
Members of the prestigious Russell Group of universities such as Oxford and Cambridge have argued that it is absolutely necessary for them to charge the maximum allowed tuition.
The full amount is required in order to maintain a high standard of education and research, said the university group, especially in light of recent cuts to teaching and research grants.
The London School of Economics is the exception to this rule, and is the only top university that will not be charging the maximum tuition. However, its rates will be almost negligibly lower, at a still-massive £8,500 each year.
Students with no cash savings or family to foot the bill will need to take out a government loan, which has the built-in protection of only being paid back once the graduate earns more than £21,000 a year. However, once they breach this mark, 9p of every pound earned will go towards repaying their student debt.