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Forecast of university tuition fees in England – Update 4

Update 19 April: The latest version of the forecasts can be found here

With tuition-fee declarations from 30 universities now in, Research Fortnight is forecasting average headline tuition fees of £8,600 in England in 2012.

After taking tuition-fee waivers into account, we are forecasting average charged fees of £8,200 – thats £700, or about 10 per cent, more than the government has budgeted for.

Twice as much data and an improved methodology that takes account of how many undergraduates there are at each institution make this fourth iteration of the forecasts much more reliable than earlier forecasts.

Key points as of today:

* The average level of advertised fees will be £8,600.

* The “top” is deep – almost half of all universities will charge the full £9,000.

* The “bottom” is small – only a few universities will charge less than £8,000.

* The “middle” is squeezed into a narrow band between £8,000 and £9,000.

* After allowing for tuition fee waivers at 4 per cent of the total, our estimate of the average actual level of fees to be charged is £8,200 (as opposed to the governments expectation of £7,500).

In other words, for all the new data, the main conclusions today are almost the same as they were a week ago. The additional data has tended to depress the average a little, but the revised methodology (which gives more weight to institutions with large numbers of students) has tended to bump it up a little and the two have balanced out.


1. We dont know how accurately the announcements that have been made will reflect the actual prices charged by universities. There are suspicions that some of these prices will be “sticker” prices that will then be discounted to entice students in. It is harder for it to work the other way with prices going up if demand exceeds supply – but companies have been known to do it and universities could, like airlines laying on extra flights, announce “new” courses late on with higher fees. We dont know what demand will be like because we simply dont know how students are going to respond to the new regime.

2. We dont know how big a factor tuition fee waivers will be. The Office for Fair Access has advised against spending lots on bursaries (slightly different because with a bursary the student ends up with more living money and a bigger loan, and the government with higher lending). So waivers to improve access may be rare. But waivers may be used simply to discount prices discreetly if universities struggle to fill places. We have allowed 4 per cent for waivers, but on little evidence.

3. It can be argued that those universities planning to charge higher-than-comparator fees have an incentive to announce early. Or it can be argued the other way round. In short, there may be a real difference between those universities that announce early and those that announce late. This is especially true in the middle range between Aston and Leeds Met where we have little data.


The consequences if this forecast is borne out remain severe, for the level of fees it suggests are significantly higher than the government intended.

For students, it means bigger debts. And for the government, that may mean increased resentment from students and parents.

For the Treasury, it means the threat of higher lending for student loans and an increase in the national debt.

For the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, it means warnings against “clustering at the top end” have been ignored and increased pressure to dictate student numbers or switch to some kind of Plan B policy.

For universities, it means lingering uncertainty as to how the backdraught of government annoyance will convert into policy.


University RF QI Set Forecast
London School of Economics 60.3 9000
University of Cambridge 60.3 9000 9000
University of Oxford 59.8 9000 9000
Imperial College London 58.2 9000 9000
University College London 55.8 9000 9000
University of Manchester 54.4 9000 9000
University of Warwick 53.4 9000 9000
University of York 53.0 9000
University of Essex 52.9 9000 9000
University of Durham 51.2 9000 9000
Queen Mary, University of London 51.2 9000
University of Bristol 50.8 9000
University of Sheffield 50.7 9000
Lancaster University 50.7 9000 9000
University of Southampton 50.6 9000
University of Leeds 50.4 9000 9000
University of Bath 50.4 9000 9000
Kings College 50.3 9000
Royal Holloway, London 49.9 9000
University of Nottingham 49.5 9000
Goldsmiths College 48.5 9000
University of Birmingham 48.3 9000 9000
Loughborough University 48.2 9000 9000
School of Oriental & African Stud. 48.1 9000
Birkbeck College 47.9 9000
University of Exeter 47.8 9000 9000
University of Kent 47.6 9000 9000
University of Newcastle 47.6 9000
University of Sussex 47.6 9000
University of the Arts London 47.3 9000
University of East Anglia 46.6 9000
University of Surrey 46.5 9000 9000
University of Liverpool 45.2 9000 9000
University of Reading 44.9 9000 9000
City University 44.4 9000
Royal Veterinary College 44.4 9000
University of Leicester* 42.3


Aston University 42.1 9000 9000
University of Brighton 41.6 9000
Keele University 41.3 9000
University of Hertfordshire 41.1 9000
University of Salford 40.4 8500
Birmingham City University 40.2 8500
University of Hull 39.7 8500
University of Bradford 39.3 8500
Brunel University 39.1 8500
De Montfort University 39.1 8500
St Georges, University of London 37.8 8500
University of East London 37.1 8500
University of Westminster 36.9 8500
University of Portsmouth 36.7 8500 8500
London South Bank University 36.6 8450 8500
Bournemouth University 35.8 8500
Oxford Brookes University 35.6 8500
Roehampton University 35.2 8500
University of the West of England 34.8 8500
Nottingham Trent University 34.8 8500
Middlesex University 34.7 8500
University of Plymouth 34.6 8500
Liverpool John Moores University 34.2 9000 8500
Manchester Metropolitan 34.1 8500
University of Northumbria 34.1 8500
University of Huddersfield 32.8 8500
Sheffield Hallam University 32.5 8500
Anglia Ruskin University 32.4 8500
Leeds Metropolitan University 32.4 8500 8500
University of Bedfordshire 31.6 8000
Kingston University 31.3 8000
University of Wolverhampton 31.0 8000
University of Derby 29.8 7395 8000
University of Teesside 29.8 8000
University of Central Lancashire 29.7 9000 8000
University for the Creative Arts 29.4 8000
University of Lincoln 28.9 8000
University of Greenwich 28.2 8000
University of Sunderland 27.6 8000
Bath Spa University 27.3 8000
Harper Adams UC 27.2 8000
Coventry University 27.0 8000 8000
London Metropolitan University 26.8 6500 8000
St Marys UC (Twickenham) 26.3 8000 8000
Canterbury Christ Church 25.8 8000
University of Bolton 24.8 8000
University of Chester 23.7 7500
Thames Valley University 23.5 7500
University of Gloucestershire 23.5 7500
Buckinghamshire New University 23.4 7500
University of Northampton 22.8 7500
Staffordshire University 22.4 7500
Southampton Solent University 20.1 7500
Liverpool Hope University 18.7 7500
Bishop Grosseteste UC 14.5 7500 7000
University of Cumbria 14.2 7000

For a general description of the method used, see our original forecast. In short, institutions are ranked by RF QI – the Research Fortnight Quality Index which is based on the last Research Assessment Exercise. We then forecast the fees in the lower reaches of the table by anticipating a correlation between RF QI and fees and looking at the fees announced by other institutions. To generate the average fee levels, the forecasts are weighted by the number of undergraduates at each institution.

Previous iterations of this analysis has been cited by the Daily Mirror, Daily Telegraph, Independent, PA and BBC.

Leicester will announce fees of £9,000 later today.