In a joint statement today (Friday) Universities UK (UUK) and GuildHE, representative bodies for the UK’s universities, have announced that they will work with their members to provide students with clear and accurate information about additional costs they will be asked to pay for things like field trips, lab equipment and art materials. The National Union of Students (NUS) welcomed the UUK and Guild HE’s response to student concerns and their commitment to partnership in the new HE landscape.
The statement was agreed following discussions with NUS after its Come Clean week of action this month, and says that ‘no student or applicant should be disadvantaged academically because of any additional costs’ and commits to publishing guidance for universities in Autumn 2012.
The NUS Come Clean Week of Action saw thousands of students around the UK asking their universities to make clear to prior to application all course costs, to absorb essential costs within the tuition fee, and offer means tested support for non-essentials.
In a similar move the Quality Assurance Agency this week published guidance for institutions to encourage them to make clear all additional course costs to applicants.
NUS President, Liam Burns, said:
“The extra costs of higher education have for years left many students struggling to keep up and this will be welcome reassurance.
“It is unacceptable to charge students for essential parts of their course when they are already paying up to £9,000 in fees. Universities must be transparent about non-essential costs and make a commitment to students that there will not be further additions throughout the course.
“We welcome UUK and GuildHE’s very positive response to this important issue and their ongoing commitment to working in partnership with students in the new higher education landscape.
“Great campaigning work by students means that universities are starting to come clean and I hope that the government will follow suit and come clean on their plans for restructuring the higher education sector.”
The statement from GuildHE and Universities UK reads:
“UUK and GuildHE have been working with NUS on important work led by student unions on additional course costs in higher education. We believe that we must take action in this area. Most importantly, all applicants and students deserve clear and accurate information about any additional costs that they will incur on a particular course or at an institution. This is an important aspect of the public information agenda as well as a matter of fairness and transparency. Understanding all costs and fees will help applicants to make informed choices and to plan ahead for their studies. We agree with NUS that no student or applicant should be disadvantaged academically because of any additional costs. Furthermore, we also recognise that increased tuition fees are likely to affect applicant and student expectations of what is and isn’t included and we need to proactively understand, manage and respond to such expectations. We believe it is in the student and institutional interest to work together to consider such issues. As in many areas of higher education policy we hope to avoid unnecessary regulatory or statutory burdens and will be working closely with NUS and others over the coming months on additional costs, seeking to understand the concerns raised by students and to establish clear guidance for good practice across the sector. We plan to publish such guidance in the autumn.”
The National Union of Students Come Clean lobby of parliament takes place on April 18 2012 - http://www.nus.org.uk/en/campaigns/funding-our-future/-come-clean-on-student-funding/
Details of the campaign on additional course costs can be found here - http://www.nusconnect.org.uk/news/article/38530/Hidden-Costs-campaign-toolkit-launches/