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Thursday 24th
posted by Luke James in Britain

Academics' union UCU calls for national bursary scheme for those unable to otherwise support themselves in education

Nine universities will be allowed to charge sky-high tuition fees despite failing to offer a penny to poor students in plans revealed yesterday by the university regulator. 

Institutions wanting to charge more than £6,000-a-year for tuition fees have been expected to offer support to disadvantaged students in “access agreements.” Most offer bursaries or fee waivers. 

But the Office for Fair Access (Offa) has rubber-stamped agreements from nine institutions that offer no support for students in the next academic year. 

Teesside University, Guildhall School for Music and Drama, Buckinghamshire New University, Harper Adams University, Middlesex University, Roehampton University, Barking and Dagenham College, East Riding College and Wakefield College will all be allowed to charge top whack. 

Defending its decision, an Offa spokesman said the institutions were offering other scholarships or spending cash on recruitment drives. 

Lecturers’ union UCU said the latest report showed the funding free-for-all must be replaced with a national scheme. 

General secretary Sally Hunt said: “It is a worry that nine institutions have chosen to offer no financial support to students while they study. 

“The fact that students receive such different levels of support at different institutions adds weight to our call for a national bursary scheme.”

Offa did reject and return 33 access plans submitted by 172 universities and colleges. 

And the National Union of Students welcomed a 30 per cent fall in the number of universities offering fee waivers to poorer students. 

President Toni Pearce said: “Our research shows that students prefer regular cash support to waivers or vouchers of any kind.”