3rd Year Week 4 MT03

Topic: Higher education and the university student top-up fees

University fees 'equal two beers'

Graduates will only have to find the equivalent of two pints of beer a week to pay back their top-up fees, a leading university figure says.

 Professor Ivor Crewe

Professor Crewe: "It's affordable"


The comments, by the head of Britain's university vice-chancellors, Professor Ivor Crewe, have angered students.

"A graduate who starts off at £18,000 a year in London will be paying back £5.30 a week - which is a couple of pints of beer," he said.

Professor Crewe was speaking to the Independent newspaper.

He is the head of Universities UK and the vice-chancellor of Essex University.

Professor Crewe said: "Now, most students could afford a couple of pints of beer when they were students, so they can afford to pay back a couple of pints after graduating.

Mandy Telford, president of the National Union of Students, said: "He has trivialised student hardship - the repercussions of which continue on into graduates' working lives, stopping them from contributing to pensions, being able to leave the parental home and getting on to the property ladder."

Second mortgage

From 2006, universities will be able to charge top-up tuition fees of up to £3,000 a year, but students will not need to pay them up-front.

They will pay the fees back once they start work and earn over a certain amount, presently set at £15,000.

Paul Mackney, the general secretary of NATFHE, the University and College Lecturers' Union, was also angered by Professor Crewe's remarks.

"The truth is that top-up fees of £3000 a year - and nobody expects that to remain the maximum - will send graduates into their working life with considerable debt.

"A first degree should not cost a second mortgage and the real deterrent effect of such debts should not be trivialised."