Tuition fees in Wales rise to £9,250 a year

In a statement to the Welsh Parliament, Senedd Minister for Education and Welsh Language Jeremy Miles has announced that undergraduate tuition fees are to rise by £250 a year - bringing it in line with the maximum fee attracting loan support in England (and Scotland and NI for those coming from elsewhere).

Jim is an Associate Editor at Wonkhe

Technically £9,250 will be the maximum fee that can be charged, although I doubt the debate in the university meeting (if there is a debate) over whether to apply the increase will take long. Times are tough across Welsh HE, and every little helps.

We were expecting something like this to emerge when we got the draft Welsh budget in December, although that did say that the Welsh government decided to increase charges, “proposals will be brought forward for consultation”. This is very much an announcement.

Plaid Cymru’s education spokesperson Heledd Fychan said the tuition fee increase would “cost people out of education”, but it really wont. In reality the change won’t make much difference to students – for those from Wales, the retention of a 30 year write off (in contrast to England’s new 40 year term) and the retention of some debt wipe off at graduation still makes the system a better deal, as illustrated by London Economics yesterday.

The bad news in terms of graduate debt is that we also now have an official announcement on the change to postgraduate master’s student finance – the old mix of grant and loan will now be replaced fully by repayable student loans as of September.

The overall amount of support is also ongoing up by 0.9%, the same rate that the loan available to support doctoral study will increase by. That is based on the OBR’s projection for inflation in Q1 2025 – although it differs from England’s OBR projection for inflation in Q1 2025 used for maintenance increases, because Wales uses a projection from last March whereas England uses the projection from last November.

Given Welsh home domiciled PG numbers seem to be falling, couple that with the removal of a range of targeted PG bursaries and universities will need to be cautious about inflationary increases to their fees, even if the PG support overall is more generous than elsewhere.

On the undergraduate maintenance loan, the statement from Miles oddly omits the established anchor to the Living Wage. We’d have to assume a level of embarrassment that it turns out they used a March 2023 OBR guess on that too, rather than the later Low Pay Commission guess, the October 2023 Jeremy Hunt guess, or the January 2023 reality – the upshot of which is that the loan is worth some £720 a year less than it should be.

Of course the failure to mention the Living Wage might also be an attempt to get folk to forget about the anchor ahead of tougher times next year. We’ll see.

One response to “Tuition fees in Wales rise to £9,250 a year

  1. Fee rise comes with a cut to the recurrent grant of £11m. Just over £3m of that is the removal of postgraduate bursary incentives for STEMM, Welsh-medium and anyone over the age of 60. The rest is to be determined by HEFCW and/or CTER.

    This will probably end up being a break-even for the sector for next year, or maybe some actually losing money? Depends how they introduce the rise.

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