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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 March, 2005, 16:06 GMT
Welsh top-up fees considered
Students
The report does not examine scrapping fees

Students in Wales could end up with the same system of top-up fees as that being introduced in England.

A study published on Thursday has set out six possible ways of imposing fees after the next Welsh assembly elections in 2007.

One option in the Rees Commission report is to adopt the variable fee of up to 3,000 being introduced in English universities next year.

The Welsh Assembly Government will make a decision on the issue in June.

Currently, all students in the UK pay a flat fee of around 1,150 for each year of their course.

We would not choose to start from here... none of the options are without weaknesses and dangers
Rees report

In England, that system will be replaced by a new variable fee in 2006, whereby universities can charge up to 3,000 a year.

The Labour assembly government has pledged not to introduce variable fees during its current term, which ends in May 2007.

The Rees Commission was set up by assembly Education Minister Jane Davidson to assess different proposals.

Rees report options
1. The status quo: 1,200 fixed fee
2. 2,000 fixed fee
3. Market-driven English competitive model: top-up fees up to 3,000
4. Assembly government part-managed scheme: top-up fees up to 3,000
5. Maximum 2,000 fees for Welsh students; up to 3,000 for non-Welsh students
6. 3,000 fixed fee

Ms Davidson said the report had "much food for thought".

She said the assembly government would retain its commitment to no variable fees during this assembly and all strengths, weaknesses, and "unintended consequences" had to be considered.

'Limited vision'

Other options in its interim report include maintaining the current flat rate fee and making the state give more money to the universities.

Another proposal would see Welsh students charged less to study in Wales than other nationalities - a choice which could be difficult to impose.

All would involve students paying fees after graduation, once they have reached a specific salary.

The report does not look at scrapping tuition fees altogether, nor does it recommend a preferred model until its final version, expected in the next couple of months.

The report said: "Our main conclusion so far is that to achieve these aspirations, in the context of UK/global market, we would not choose to start from here.

"The financial, legal, cross-border flow implications of the various options are highly complex.

"None of the options are without its weaknesses and dangers. There is considerable work still to do."

Last month, figures released by the admissions service Ucas showed more people were applying to study at Welsh universities.




SEE ALSO:
Student 'fee factor' played down
17 Feb 05 |  Scotland
Chancellor wants unlimited fees
03 Feb 05 |  Oxfordshire
Fewer Welsh studying in England
27 Jan 05 |  South West Wales


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