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London Met aims low on fees

London Metropolitan University is to charge under £6,000 a year for many courses in 2012, bucking the trend set by other institutions that have rushed to charge £9,000 a year.

Malcolm Gillies, London Met’s vice-chancellor, told The Sunday Times he was planning a tuition-fee structure that took account of “affordability for students who will incur a real debt that they may live with for 30 years”.

He is the first vice-chancellor to announce that he intends to set course fees below the £6,000 threshold, despite the government insisting that those charging over this lower limit should be the exception rather than the rule.

So far six universities – all members of the Russell and 1994 groups of research-intensive institutions – have announced their fee levels for 2012. All have decided to charge £9,000, albeit with fee waivers and bursaries to assist poorer students.

Professor Gillies said of London Met’s approach: “We have the largest number of students from manual work and unemployed backgrounds of any university in the country, so it is an issue of social responsibility for us.

“The average [fee] will be £6,000 to £7,000, considerably higher in some [courses], considerably lower in others.”

London Met’s decision is likely to put pressure on other institutions as they decide how to pitch themselves in the new fees market. Those that have announced their intention to charge the maximum amount permissible are the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Exeter, Durham and Surrey, plus Imperial College London.

Professor Gillies said that the rush to charge higher fees suggested that “there has not been a really serious attempt to see how you might reduce costs in the interests of affordability for the student”.

As Times Higher Education reported earlier this month, London Met plans substantial reductions to the number of courses it offers from 2012-13.

It is also continuing to pay back tens of millions of pounds to the Higher Education Funding Council for England after financial mismanagement by the institution’s previous administration.

john.gill@tsleducation.com

Readers' comments (4)

  • It is almost hysterical the way Gillies is trying to dress this up as if he is some kind of social philanthropist. This so called university is so bad it frankly can't charge top whack anyway. Bit of an insult to the intelligence really to suggest it is anything more than a case of what the market will bear. London Metropolitan has a specific market for poor degrees .. how else was it expected to react. But to dress it up like they have is quite laughable.

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  • Things is --- you will soon be able to do pointless degrees at your FE college for about £3,500 so the kids will do that and London Met will merge with an FE college or close... same probably at London South Dank - though before you get too smug at Jack Russell college remember the students can be pretty dire there as well...

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  • " .. improving young peoples' lives ..." I am afraid is a rather overblown and rosy tinted view of things at London Met. Yes of course there will be 'young people' there who genuinely wish to improve their lot but quite honestly they are not, I suggest, the majority. It is certainly not the philanthropic, socially caring institution that you perhaps allude to. And yes, I do suggest it is closed down. There is a surplus of HE institutions in London. Not many would miss London Met if it was allowed to go to the wall.

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  • "And yes, I do suggest it is closed down. There is a surplus of HE institutions in London. Not many would miss London Met if it was allowed to go to the wall" Amen!

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  • Malcolm Gillies, vice-chancellor of London Metropolitan University
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