Student Advice

Tuition Fees

Uni Compare  · Aug 4th 2021

After the 2010 UK elections, university tuition fees notoriously raised to up to £9,000 a year from £3,000.

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The rise of tuition fees has scared people from applying to university, and there is much confusion on what they mean now when studying and after you graduate. This is your ultimate guide on tuition fees – no matter how much they are – and what you really need to know about them.

Do tuition fees actually matter?

What are tuition fees?

Tuition fees are fees that a student must repay for services at university. It usually means paying back your student finance, although in Scotland, it’s SAAS tuition fees, as that’s the company you repay. But tuition fees in Wales and the rest of the UK all work the same, as Welsh tuition fees are no different from anywhere except Scotland. Most uni tuition fees average out at £9,250-a-year.

Tuition fees are traditionally spent on the university’s main infrastructure and facilities. This means that universities are able to spend more money on better facilities, improved teaching resources and better IT infrastructure. If you are unsure about how your tuition fees are being spent, you can always speak to your university and ask them what your fees are being spent on.

After the introduction of tuition fees in the UK, tuition fees in Scotland were effectively abolished, with students from Scotland not being required to pay any tuition fees at all, although students from international countries or from other countries in the UK are still required to pay them in Scotland.

Who introduced tuition fees?

So when were tuition fees introduced and who brought in tuition fees? Tuition fees UK were first introduced in September 1998 by Tony Blair’s Labour government, although at that time, students were required to pay around £1,000-a-year as opposed to the roughly £9,000 price tag nowadays.

Labour tuition fees have been the subject of contention over the years with former leader Jeremy Corbyn’s plan for tuition fees being a controversial topic during his tenure as the leader of the party. Corbyn looked to scrap tuition fees altogether and with various leaders of the party opting to end tuition fees as well, as do the Liberal Democrats.

Scholarships can be based on academic credit household income and if you’re an international student.

When did tuition fees rise to £9,250?

Tuition fees rose to £9,250 in 2010 as a result of the Browne Review, becoming a huge part of tuition fees in the UK history, however, there are a few things to consider with regards to this.

Firstly, not every university or course costs £9,250 a year to attend/study. This is to direct what universities can charge up to this amount, each institution and course will cost a different amount. Some can be as high as that figure, but others can be as low £6,000 – it’s all relative.

Secondly, the coalition government did raise tuition fees, but they also raised the earning threshold meaning as it costs more to obtain a degree, you have to earn more as a graduate to begin to repay your loan.

The threshold has increased to £19,895 per annum, therefore, as a graduate, you have to be earning at least this amount before student loan repayments began to come out of your student bank account. If you earn less than this, you don’t have to pay anything back.

Next, if you began university the year where the fees were still £3,000 your student loan repayments will begin when you start to earn over £15,000 a year. You should check what tuition fees you were charged to really understand when you start paying back what you owe and how much.

Your payments are made from the account you are paid into by your employer and not from your student finance account.

Do university tuition fees actually matter?

How to pay tuition fees without student finance

The majority of students you meet will have student finance, however, there are many who set up payments via an external fund. Some families may have been saving for university for a while and have already saved enough to cover their university tuition fees UK, or there may be an external benefactor in a Citizen Kane-esque scenario. Many students work out a repayment plan for their student tuition fees after university if they have student finance.

Student loan repayments will automatically come out of your payslip, just like your student tax; you won’t see them in your account and won’t have to worry about a direct debit.

However, if you find that you are earning the right amount of money to pay them back, but they somehow aren’t showing up, you should contact student finance about setting up the repayments. Also, if you’re not clear on when you should set up repayments or how much you’ll owe you can always contact the student loans company for more information.

Even if the high tuition fees scare you, you need to remember that – depending on your nationality, how long you have lived in the UK, you and/or your household’s earnings – you can get a loan to pay them. This is where you apply for the student loan company to pay your tuition; they pay the university directly in most cases, and you have nothing to worry about.

There are other factors that can alter your tuition fee loans. Some universities offer full or part scholarships where they reduce the cost of your tuition (you could save thousands). These scholarships come in all shapes and sizes, and the institution usually contacts the students about whether they’re eligible for these if you want to know more information you can speak to an advisor at your university.

Scholarships can be based on academic credit (your previous grades, admission test scores, etc.) household income and if you’re an international student.

Recently, with the next UK election sparking controversy and conversation, there are rumours of Labour wanting to lower the tuition fees to £6,000. Even though this may prove popular with younger voters, lowering tuition fees isn’t always the best answer to aid every student.

With the big money pot, the government has to spend on the country, and divide up into hospitals, police and fire stations, welfare and education, there is only a specific amount the government can afford to allocate to education, and then universities and students. While this doesn't actually help you with your overall financial burden, it does at least give you a bit of context as to where it is all spent.

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