A fifth of universities in England have changed their plans regarding the tuition fees that will be charged starting with the next autumn. According to the Office for Fair Access (Offa), 25 institutions have reduced the fees which is supposed to cause a chaos for thousands of applicants.
In result of reducing tuition fees, the average cost of courses will fall to £8,071, including fee waivers.
Eight universities intend to charge £7,500 or even less in case waivers and bursaries are included. In July 2011, the watchdog claimed that annual fee among universities in England will be £8,393. Meanwhile 47 institutions that provide higher education planned to charge the maximum tuition fee – £9,000.
Decisions that changed this situation were last-minute responses to the government's announcement that in case universities reduce their fees, they will receive incentives. A white paper published by ministers said that universities could bid for a share of 20,000 full-time undergraduate places for 2012 only in case they drop fees to £7,500 or less.
According to the business secretary, Vince Cable, the number of 20,000 would increase in the future. The last-minute decisions made by universities is likely to confuse thousands of students, who have already applied to university courses as they were unaware that these institutions could change their tuition fees as well as the financial support they can receive.
Offa said that universities and colleges that changed their plans would have to inform all students who applied to them by Wednesday. Applicants will have the opportunity to decide whether to apply to another university or not while the deadline of 15 January is approaching.