Students face maximum fees for degrees

PROSPECTIVE students wishing to study for a degree in Hastings could have to fork out as much as £9,000 in fees from next year.

The University of Brighton, which runs courses at University Centre Hastings (UCH), Havelock Road, and at Sussex Coast College Hastings, announced it is proposing to charge £7,000 a year for all of its foundation degrees, which last two years, and £9,000 for its three-year honours degree courses, from September 2012.

From this September, the fee will remain at £3,375 for all degrees.

Oli Fawcett, acting chairman of Hastings Youth Council, was planning to go to university next year to study politics and sociology, but is now put off by the news.

Oli said: “It’s disgraceful that the Government is doing this.

“It should be supporting young people.”

Hastings MP Amber Rudd expressed concern at the news, despite voting for the fee increase in December.

She said the proposed rise was “rather high” and added she intends to pen a letter to Professor Julian Crampton, the university’s vice-chancellor, to ask how it will help its poorer students cope with the changes.

Ms Rudd, however, was still adamant she made the right decision to vote for the Government’s bill four months ago, despite it causing Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition majority to nosedive from 81 to just 24.

She said: “The threshold increase means graduates will only start repaying back their loans once they earn more than £21,000 and then only at £30 a month.

“A £150million scholarship fund has been set aside to help students from poorer backgrounds and they certainly should not be put off applying to university.”

Nick Perry, local Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate, said he was “very unhappy” at the news.

“Young people need to be encouraged to go to university if they want to,” he added.

In December, more than 150 angry students marched in Hastings town centre in protest against the proposal to hike up fees.

Mr Perry was lambasted by protesters at the march after Nick Clegg reneged on his party’s promise not to put up tuition fees.

Professor Stuart Laing, deputy vice-chancellor at the University of Brighton, said: “I firmly believe Hastings deserves the best and highest quality university education, comparable to anywhere in the country and, for that reason, we are using the opportunity provided by the Government to deliver this.

“No student will pay any of these proposed fees up front and there are no immediate costs to students.

“More than £5million annually will be made available for fee waivers, bursaries and other forms of financial support. This package could reduce fees by £4,000 over the lengths of recipients’ courses.

“A further £2.8million will be invested in outreach work with local schools and colleges.”