Kingston students received an email during the Easter break, informing them that from 2012 the university will charge new students £8,500 per year.
This means that the university will be charging only slightly less than the maximum £9,000 fees agreed by MPs in December last year. Kingston will have to clear their proposed rates with the Office For Fair Access (OFFA), but the move is indicative of rises in education costs across the country.
Out of 83 universities to have released prices for 2012, only 26 will be charging less than £9,000. Some have argued that funding cuts have forced fees up, with others claiming that to charge less than their competitors will imply that their degree is somehow inferior.
Julius Weinberg, Kingston’s Vice Chancellor, told students: “Kingston has been well managed and we have some savings. However we need to hold onto these savings to protect and prepare Kingston University for the future.”
After the initial findings of the Browne report, and the raising of the cap on university fees, Kingston saw a jump in applications for 2011 entry. There is concern that if prices are set too high, there will be a corresponding slump from 2012 onwards, as potential students look elsewhere.
The Vice Chancellor attempted to assuage these fears, saying the university had “taken steps to lessen the impact”, with more support for low income students to include a “new Kingston scholarship scheme”. He concluded: “It will still be very worthwhile to do a degree at Kingston University.”
Leaders of the union Unite have also called for an investigation into possible collusion between universities, which they say may have led to across the board tuition fee rises.
Mike Robinson, of Unite, told a government committee “The number of institutions that are going at the £9,000 level we don’t think is an accident, we think it is deliberate. Whether it’s planned between them is our concern and we think that is something that you need to look at.”