Students may soon save thousands of pounds in tuition fees, as the Chancellor mulls over cuts that would extend over a three-year period, The Independent reports.
Philp Hammond is considering capping charges at £7,500 per year, down from the current rate of £9,250 per year. Hammond’s move comes after several warnings that graduates may not be able to pay off their loans.
Conservatives are also looking to broaden their support base with young people, who voted primarily for Labour in the June election.
Universities are also being criticized for paying high salaries while putting students tens of thousands of pounds into debt. Schools are currently charging students the same fees for arts and humanities courses, which are far less expensive to run than science programs.
“There are too many universities where kids are not getting a high-skilled job,” said Tory MP and chair of the Education Select Committee. “We have to look at value for money for tuition fees.”
Critics have compared institutions to a cartel, and many are concerned about student loans carrying interest rates that are higher than 6%.
Conservatives are also considering raising the salary threshold for repayment and capping interest rates on student loans.
Hammond is expected to reveal the full proposals as part of the Autumn Budget. The government reportedly has data showing that some universities have made millions in surplus income from charging fees.
Not everyone is on board with Hammond’s proposals.
“The Chancellor’s reported proposals don’t help many who most need support – that is why Labour will bring back maintenance grants for disadvantaged students as well as abolishing tuition fees entirely,” said Angela Rayner, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary.
Rayner has also called on the Chancellor to accept a vote passed in the Commons to roll back the recent tuition fee hike, which increased fees from £9,000 to £9,250.
The Government last year announced that universities would be able to increase fees with inflation.
The motion to reverse the tuition hike passed without opposition on Friday, but the Government insists that the vote is not legally binding.
Shakira Martin, the National Union of Students president, echoed Rayner’s comments regarding maintenance grants.
“There has been no commitment to bringing back maintenance grants which would support the poorest of students through their study,” said Martin. “We also hold strong reservations about creating differential tiers of tuition fees which wrongfully imply a gulf of difference between institutions based on flawed metrics of quality.”