University of Portsmouth under fire for fees inflation

MINISTER David Willetts
MINISTER David Willetts

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THE University of Portsmouth has come under fire for adding inflation to its tuition fees.

While it has set this year’s fees at £8,500 – below the £9,000 cap – it plans to charge ‘not greater than the annual increase in retail price index’ (currently 3.7 per cent) in subsequent years. This means a student with £8,500 tuition fees in 2012/13 could see that rise by more than £300 in their second year – and hit the maximum £9,000 amount in their third year.

At the same time, £1,000 annual bursaries for the poorest students across all three years will not be going up with inflation.

Critics say the university should be putting extra cash in the pockets of the poorest students. Amy Baker, president of the student union, said: ‘It is misleading to tell students they are paying £8,500 a year when in fact every year the fees will go up and they will eventually pay the full amount.’

A university spokeswoman insisted the inflation increase was made ‘very clear’ to students’ but added the university would be considering bursary arrangements for the 2012/13 intake in their second year.

David Willetts, universities minister, declined to comment on the fees inflation, but stressed students would not be paying ‘up front’ and would only start to repay their loans once they were earning more than £21,000.