The last of the current OfS fee information series

There's a poignancy to OfS' dullest annual release this year.

David Kernohan is Deputy Editor of Wonkhe

It’s all there in section 11 of the 2017 Higher Education and Research Act .

Every year, the Office for Students has to publish a list of applicable fee limits for each provider, by course types. The widely repeated £9,250 a year figure relates only to a single year of full-time undergraduate provision where a provider has registered (fee cap) status with OfS, holds a current TEF award, and an approved access and participation plan (APP).

If you don’t have a TEF, the applicable fee limit falls to £9,000. If you don’t have an access and participation plan you are only eligible to charge the basic fee amount (£6,165). There are lower fee limits for placement years and years abroad, which vary in the same way.

For accelerated degrees, the fee limit is higher (the maximum is 11,100). For part-time provision of any sort the fee cap is lower (the maximum is £6,935, regardless of course intensity). The only exception here are the loans issued as part of the failed Short Course Trial (which are not included in this document, and come in at £2,310 for 30 credits and £3,080 for 40 credits)

Here’s how all of that looks for your provider:

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It’s surprisingly complex, but is about to become more so. Section 11 of HERA is soon (we’re waiting for regulations) to be amended by section 2 of the Lifelong Learning (Higher Education Fee Limits) Act 2023.

That’s the legislation that partially operationalises the lifelong learning entitlement by introducing the notion of academic credit into funding decisions at a more granular level. When section 2 of LL(HEFL) comes into force, OfS will have to indicate which of these fee limits will be calculated using the credit-based method (in essence the Secretary of State will set fee limits per academic credit – 360 of which make up a traditional three year undergraduate degree) in each of the cases detailed above) and which will not (some, non-modular, courses like nursing can be exempted).

This is all complicated further by the decision to have some courses (generally those about to become Higher Technical Qualifications – basically HNC/D but with employer approval) move to the per credit calculation (where applicable) from 2025-26, with the remainder following in 2027-28.

And we can also chuck in to this mix the decision to reduce fee limits (in classroom based subjects) for foundation year/year zero credits to £5,670 for 120 credits from 2025-26. This change is the first time that the government has varied fee limits by subject of study, something it has repeatedly promised not to do but is among the powers available to it in HERA.

So, if you’ve been putting off learning how all this stuff works, you may want to put it off another year as everything is likely to change again (even if an incoming government elects not change or delay anything that is currently planned). The list the OfS is still required to publish every year will, if anything, become more complex.



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