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Calls for clarity

More transparency is needed over pensions and tuition fees—and less dad dancing.

As Freshers’ Weeks get under way, universities will be wondering what next year’s tranche of students will be worth—in financial terms. While stories over the weekend suggested the fees paid by each student could be slashed by £5,000 over the three years of a degree, it is not at all clear whether this is really likely to happen, or whether the thirst for tuition-fee blood will be sated by bringing back maintenance grants, lowering interest rates or raising the repayment threshold, none of which would directly affect the pound in university pockets. Universities don’t even know whether fees will rise next year, as originally planned, to £9,500 in line with inflation—although it is looking increasingly unlikely. Officials at the Department for Education yesterday said they were unable to put a date on when an announcement on next year’s fee levels would be made—or even whether it would be ministers from the department who would make the decision. Sean Coughlan has rounded up the government’s various options for the BBC.

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