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Cambridge takes £1m a year in postgrad application fees

Image: PoohFotoz, via Shutterstock

Revelation comes as Oxford University staff are set to vote on whether to scrap the fee

The University of Cambridge has raked in more than £3.3 million in postgraduate application fees over the past three years, Research Professional News can reveal.

Applications for graduate study at the elite university are currently subject to a £65 application charge—which applicants must pay even if they fail to secure a place. There are widespread concerns that such fees can put disadvantaged students off applying, and staff at the University of Oxford are due to vote on abolishing the controversial charges tomorrow.

According to information obtained by Research Professional News via a freedom of information request, the amount the university has received in postgraduate application fees increased from just over £1m in both 2016-17 and 2017-18 to more than £1.25m in 2018-19. It means the university has taken a total of more than £3.3m over the last three financial years.

A spokesman at the University of Cambridge told Research Professional News: “The university receives thousands of postgraduate applications every year. To deliver an effective service we need to levy an application fee, just as other universities do, and UCAS does for undergraduates.

“We are mindful of the obstacle this may create for some applicants, and so have expanded our application fee waiver scheme. We are committed to widening participation at postgraduate level and have appointed an officer to take forward this work.”

There are widespread concerns that such fees can put disadvantaged students off applying, and according to guidance on the University of Cambridge website, the university offers an application fee waiver for domestic students from “low income households”. This is defined as those students “in receipt of full state support for maintenance as an undergraduate at a UK university within the last four years”.

The university also waives fees for people with asylum seeker or refugee status, and those from low-income countries—regardless of their personal circumstances.

The Cambridge figures are published as staff at the University of Oxford are set to vote on 10 March to scrap the institution’s controversial £75 postgraduate application fee, amid concerns that it is restricting access to the institution.

According to an email sent to heads of department at the university on 12 February, Oxford received 30,000 applications for postgraduate study last year, bringing in an income of more than £2m.

Information obtained by Research Professional News and published last month revealed the amount the university has received in postgraduate fees increased from £1.95m in 2016-17 to £2.24m in 2017-18, which equates to more than £6m in revenue in the last three years.

Labour shadow education minister, Emma Hardy, has backed calls for the fees to be scrapped