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Last Updated: Friday, 15 July 2005, 11:52 GMT 12:52 UK
Review of part-time student fees
Bill Rammell, universities minister
Bill Rammell is due to have talks with universities
The government has said it is looking again at the issue of fees and financial support for part-time students in England.

Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell said he hoped to say more this autumn.

The government believes youngsters do not understand that poorer students will be better off under the changes it is making, which include top-up fees.

But the fact that fees will not have to be paid in advance does not apply to part-timers: more than 40% of students.

Publicity

The Department for Education and Skills is to launch a new, multi-million-pound publicity campaign on Monday aimed at persuading students that higher education is worthwhile, having already spent 1.6m doing so.

This will explain that although fees are rising to 3,000 a year in most universities in England from 2006, people will no longer have to pay them up-front.

Instead repayment can be deferred until they have graduated and are earning at least 15,000.

But this does not apply to part-time students who will still have to pay fees up-front.

Mr Rammell said on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4: "Part-timers is an issue that we are looking at. I hope that we can actually say something about that come the autumn."

But he said part-time students were not a uniform group.

"Many of them are well-off, many of them are in work," he said.

His department said there was nothing more they could say on the subject at this stage.

Loss of income

Existing policy towards part-timers has concerned higher education organisations.

The group representing many newer universities, CMU, is due to meet Mr Rammell to discuss its concerns.

It argues that its members feel unable to charge significantly higher fees to their part-timers - often the very people the government wants to encourage to go into higher education - and will lose income as a result.

Chief executive Pam Tatlow told the BBC News website she welcomed the fact that the department was reviewing things.

"We have always said the government needed to work with the sector to resolve the issue.

"We are not saying it's not complicated but what we have always said is they needed to find at least an interim solution for the 2006 academic year."




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