Tuition Fee Frenzy as Evidence Suggests Keele Masters Hike
A troubling development appears to be afoot as evidence emerges of a possible tuition fee hike for postgraduates studying at Keele University. With some course fees set to rise by around 40%!
I was recently alerted to the suggestion that fees may be due to rise for students planning to study a master’s degree at Keele next year. This came as a result of friend, a third-year student at Keele, claiming the cost of her chosen PG course had risen. Having not heard any official announcements or communications from the university regarding what is clearly understood as a sensitive issue for students, I elected to do some digging.
Initially, a very simple google search for “PGT fees Keele” provides a result linking to a page on the universities official website. Strikingly the first thing that appears on this page is a disclaimer that the fees stated are “subject to council approval”, as seen in the screen-capture below.
Such a disclaimer, that all tuition fees for the 2018/19 year are “subject to council approval”, is a real headscratcher indeed! Intrigued, I decided to read the page with as much intent and purpose as I did the last Harry Potter book and chanced upon some odd-looking figures. According to Keele’s website, an MSc in Accounting and Financial Management from 2018 will cost you £8,900. However, according the information provided on the UCAS website, the same course cost £6,885 if you started in September 2017; that’s a near 30% rise and the difference of around £2,000! That’s around 260 hours of work on the National Living Wage (£7.50), a sweat inducing figure for those planning to work to subsidise their post-grad studies!
And it’s not just our sharp thinking friends in management to take a hit, similar evidence suggests planned fee increases across the board. An MA in History from Keele will now set you back £7,250, compared with £5,100 in 2017; an increase of 42%! Some courses, such as MSc Physiotherapy, have only increased with the rate of inflation with other courses appearing to have decreased in cost slightly on their 2017 price. But the damning news is that, if the information provided by the university is correct, a significant proportion on of masters courses at Keele are to see a 40% or more tuition fee hike.
It is of course arguable that, given the recent introduction of post-graduate loans and Keele’s relatively low fees compared to other universities, a fee rise was likely if not so justifiable. But the significance of the hike in some courses and the way in which the possible increase is being dealt with raise some serious concerns for students and the university must provide answers. One huge question on everyone’s lips will be; when were the university planning to announce these fee changes? It is surely, by now, evident to the university that Keele students will not be silenced on these issues. Why have students not been publicly and transparently informed of these changes before they were published on the university website? And what of current third years, who may have already applied to study PG course at Keele? Studying a masters is incredibly rewarding, but not without difficulty since it requires intellectual rigor whilst also requiring many post-graduates to work in order to subsidies fees and living costs. Many planning to study a PG course at Keele next year might now be wondering how much tighter their budget will be, or how many more hours a week they need to work.
We contacted officers from both Keele SU and the Keele Postgraduate Association for comment regarding these developments. Ieuan Smith, KPA President, provided the following statement;
“We in the KPA have been made aware of the rise in PGT Tuition Fees and it is an issue that we are taking very seriously. When having discussions with the University we try our best to ensure that we represent students interests to the University whilst appreciating the position the University itself is in. The key things the KPA always tries to ensure at Keele are a high quality Masters provision and the ability for all students, regardless of background, to gain access to a Masters education. The latter point is particularly important as Masters students are limited to, currently, a loan of £10,200 for all elements of their study. In this light, firstly we are lobbying the University to come forward and explain to all students how this rise in tuition fees will ensure a higher quality Masters provision. In particular, we would like the University to explain how this rise in fees will address issues such as Level 6 (third year) modules at Level 7 (Masters), better Student Voice Representation at Masters level and improved administration of PGT courses. Secondly, we are lobbying the University to explain how they intend to ensure all students can continue to have access to a Masters education, regardless of background, by explaining if there will be an equal percentage rise in the bursaries they offer and the bursary cap. We would like to encourage all students, whether they are undergraduate or postgraduate, to approach us with their views on the Universities proposals and we will ensure these are passed onto the University to be considered during the decision-making process. We would also be more than willing to answer any questions.”
Tom Snape, Union Development and Democracy Officer at Keele SU provided the following statement;
“This rise in postgraduate tuition fees raises a number of concerns. The first, and perhaps most important, is what students will actually get for this rise? What does a student paying 40% more than the year before actually get for that extra money? We still have no clear answer to this question. The University have claimed that the masters courses are historically undervalued compared to comparable offers from other institutions. While there are some broader questions to ask about how we measure what a ‘comparable’ masters is even if they were historically undervalued this doesn’t offer much reassurance to potential students facing the massive hike in fees.
One potential quick win here would be for the university to commit to having no instances of third year modules repeating on masters courses. Currently a student who completes their undergraduate degree and enrolls on a masters degree in the same subject could end up having their options limited to avoid module repetition. In extreme cases masters students have been known to attend lectures or seminars alongside undergraduate students! When students take a masters degree they quite rightly expect a higher level of teaching than on an undergraduate degree.
The higher fees also means that a significant number of students with limited savings will simply be unable to progress into a masters degree OR will be forced to take on extra work in order to pay their fees. It will also be important that the University adjust their bursary offers in proportion with the new fees regime. This would ensure that the higher fees don’t totally lock out students with limited savings.”