Student and University Funding in Devolved Governments in the United Kingdom
Higher education funding in the United Kingdom has changed frequently and dramatically in recent decades, and the Higher Education Act, passed in July 2004, means further major change, with the introduction of variable (generally described as ‘top-up’) fees for undergraduate degrees in English universities from 2006–07, and devolution of responsibility for tuition fees in Welsh universities to the National Assembly for Wales (NAW). University funding and student support have become a political battlefield in the UK, and fierce debates took place in 2004, not only in both Houses of Parliament in London, but in Scotland and Wales, where devolution of power following the establishment of the Scottish Parliament and the NAW in 1999 has had a strong impact on higher education finance. Unlike other federal countries discussed in this volume, such as Canada and the USA, the UK had, until recently, a common policy for university funding and student support, with broadly similar systems in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, despite other differences such as four-year degree courses in Scotland and some bilingual provision in Wales, but since devolution in 1999 significant differences have emerged. These are likely to continue as the devolved governments develop their own funding policies to reflect national priorities. The Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) pledged in 2003 that variable fees will not be introduced in Wales during the life of this Assembly, which means that they cannot be introduced before 2007–08 at the earliest. In 2006–07 Welsh universities will continue to charge a fixed fee of about £1200, while English universities may, subject to approval by the newly established Office for Fair Access (OFFA), charge fees of up to £3000 per annum. There is now fierce controversy about future policy on tuition fees and student support in Wales.
KeywordsHigh Education High Education Institution Student Support Residual Income Student Loan
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