Page last updated at 17:18 GMT, Friday, 6 November 2009

University fee review date set

By Angela Harrison
BBC News education reporter

The review should determine what happens to university fees

The details of a review into fees paid by England's university students are to be announced on Monday.

The government will outline the scope of the inquiry and name the person who will lead it in a written statement to the House of Commons.

The review is expected to be wide-ranging, looking at various funding options, but will not be finished until after the next general election.

Students have been staging campaigns against any increase in fees.

A new series of protests by the National Union of Students have been run across England since the start of the university term.

Students in England and Northern Ireland, and non-Welsh students in Wales have to pay tuition fees of up to £3,225 a year.

Welsh students studying in Wales pay fees of £1,285 while there are no tuition fees in Scotland.

STUDENT FEES (2009-10)
England: £3,225 p.a.
N. Ireland: £3,225 p.a.
Scotland: free to Scots, £1,775 to other UK
Wales: £1,285 to the Welsh, £3,225 to other UK
Students from elsewhere in the EU pay the same as those locally
Those from outside the EU pay whatever the university charges

But some university vice-chancellors are reported to want to raise tuition fees to as much as £7,000 a year.

When variable tuition fees were introduced in England in 2006, allowing universities to set their own fees up to this level, the government promised there would be a full review before any lifting of that limit.

With recession cuts looming, all sides are keen to get their message across in the debate over who should pay what in higher education.

Earlier this week, Business Secretary Lord Mandelson warned that the higher and further education sectors faced "increasingly tight fiscal constraints" and needed to raise more of their own funds.

"We will also have to look at the contribution that individuals make to the cost of higher education, which we will do through the independent fees review," he said.

The Confederation of British Industry angered students by saying they should accept higher tuition fees as "inevitable" and pay more interest on their student loans.

NUS president Wes Streeting said: "Little over a month ago, the CBI called for a rise in fees, and polls have found that most university vice-chancellors would like to charge students £5,000 or more a year.

"Students are already graduating with over £20,000 of debt, and in the current economic climate it is extremely arrogant to argue that they should pay even more. We believe the review must look at alternatives to the disastrous system of top up fees."

The NUS says students should be properly represented in the review.

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