Why does England have the highest tuition fees in Europe?

(36 Posts)
Fiona2011231 Sat 22-Nov-14 21:23:39

It seems to me that these days in England, every university tries to charge students as high as they can. Of course, they will present many reasons.

But England has the highest tuition fees in the European Union (plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Montenegro and Turkey), according to an analysis of current charges by the European Commission.

This is the link to the BBC article:


England is an outlier with fees of up to £9,000 per year.

Other "relatively high fees" are charged in Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary and the Netherlands, with typical costs between about £800 to £4,000.

Surely there is something fishy and wrong with England.

If higher education is free in Germany, and costs little in other European countries, why is it so expensive in England? Are people misled by the government and the universities?

OP’s posts: |
titchy Sat 22-Nov-14 23:22:59

Other countries' governments fund higher education to a much greater degree. England used to back in the day. Now the government has significantly reduced the amount it spends on HE.

cherubimandseraphim Sat 22-Nov-14 23:26:20

Our government likes to think of young people as future cash cows/debt slaves for the financial services sector. Hence the new student loans attracting future interest at rates of at least RPI+3% (which they can vary upwards as they like); and plans to sell the loan book to private finance in the future.

UptheChimney Sun 23-Nov-14 11:09:24

every university tries to charge students as high as they can. Of course, they will present many reasons


There's only one reason: the Conservative-LibDem Coalition Government removed 80% of the public funding for teaching, leaving a small amount which it specifies MUST be spent on STEM subjects and a wee tiny bit on modern languages (not tat I've seen that, actually).

So keep the universities out of it.

UptheChimney Sun 23-Nov-14 11:12:48

Also, do you know anything about the conditions of study in other EU countries? I know something of the conditions for undergraduates in Germany, France, and Italy. In Italy, lecture groups in the hundreds, in lecture theatres where if you don't come early you won't get in as they can't accommodate the numbers; in Germany, taking an average of 5 years to get the equivalent of a BA (although they call it a Masters, it isn't in English terms); in France, huge classes.

In all three countries small group teaching in tutorials, the exception rather than the norm as it is here. Precious little provision for students to live away from home, so unless your parents are very rich or very poor, you have to study at the nearest university even if it's not the best for your subject.

In terms of value for money, the UK system is one of the best.

Toomanyhouseguests Sun 23-Nov-14 11:15:14

I'd be interested to know what percentage of the population is expected to attend University in the low cost countries. Surely trying to send 50% to uni increases the bill...and throws a greater percentage of kids into a costly educational journey.

caroldecker Sun 23-Nov-14 12:28:07

The UK governemnt has decided, rightly IMO, that over 18 education should be funded by those that benefit from it, ie the graduates, rather than from general taxation. I fail to understand why there is any problems with this.


MillyMollyMama Sun 23-Nov-14 13:03:54

My DD studied in Italy as part if her Erasmus year and was appalled at their standards and the huge numbers in the lectures. Exams were scheduled every 2 months for the vast number of retakes and it was quite possible to take 6+ years to get the degree. The a University she was at, Bologna, had 88,000 students. It was disorganised and nothing like the experience here. It might be cheap but no Italian university is now considered world class.

We use a system that closely resembles the US model and their education is world class.

mummytime Sun 23-Nov-14 13:29:43

caroldecker - that might be a valid view point, except that the recent economic analysis is that the present system is the worst possible one. Lots of graduates will never pay off their loan, it puts students off, the Universities have insecure funding (made worse by the Visa restrictions) and the government has to provide the money for the loans now - to be repaid/not repaid in the future.

Admittedly very few non UK Universities in Europe are considered to be "world class", and some of those which are are "private" and charge higher fees. For example Grand Ecoles in France charge 5,000 to 10,000 euros, possible 15,000 for Engineering (that is per year).

Fiona2011231 Sun 23-Nov-14 13:39:36

Very interesting and useful insight. Thank you so much. Perhaps the UK fees are not so bad, although I still think £9,000 for universities outside the top 20 is poor value for money.

OP’s posts: |
caroldecker Sun 23-Nov-14 13:56:22

mummytime If students do not pay, then the system is no worse than the govt paying up front, at least this way some money comes back into general taxation.
I agree it is porr value outside top 20, but it is ridiculous that c50% of the population go to university, most would be better off in job training schemes etc. Hopefully to more useless institutions will not get enough applicants and close

titchy Sun 23-Nov-14 16:00:30

Carol you'd have a point if the ONLY benefits of graduates were to the graduates themselves. The benefits of a large proportion of the population being educated to graduate level do extend to the rest of society though, so that's not really an argument that stands up.

Kez100 Sun 23-Nov-14 17:33:04

Remember Polys and Unis have been combined in terms of name and many very good technical and arts courses still exist and they will fall out of your top 20.

Kez100 Sun 23-Nov-14 17:46:22

Hopefully to more useless institutions will not get enough applicants and close.

I'm not sure who would benefit here. Certainly many academic and support staff would lose their jobs.

How can one say what is a useless degree or a useless institution? As mentioned before it is a three more years of higher education, even if it isn't has high a level as Oxbridge.

It promotes aspiration.

Many technical courses are probably being run through some of these (so called) useless institutions. The best arts courses will be as oversubscribed as Oxbridge and pick very, very, talented youngsters. Many are likely to have to go freelance from leaving Uni and there are very few training base apprenticeships out there for these industries. The students often get commissions while on the courses which gives them access to academic staff support while they are learning.

It's not perfect, and maybe there is some over selling of some courses but I still think students are becoming more savvy now they have to pay so much. What is good is that education is being encouraged and reading encouraged and that has to be a good thing for our society in general.

JeanneDeMontbaston Sun 23-Nov-14 20:03:59

I don't agree completely, kez.

I think it's highly cruel to encourage students through courses that have very low rates of employment afterwards. It's not about universities that are slightly less good than Oxbridge! Nor about technical courses. There are loads of universities that are providing useful courses, and some of them a darn sight better than the Oxbridge equivalents.

But there are also some universities and some courses that I think are actually exploitative of students' ignorance and of this pressure for 'a degree, any degree'. I got to know students from one place quite well (I won't name it) and they were convinced that degrees in things like business, marketing, French and German would get them highly paid work and make them fluent in the languages. They've all gone into basic retail jobs they could have gone into straight out of school. And now, if they wanted to do a useful degree, they wouldn't be funded, because you only get one round of funding.

I remember looking over the French they were doing in the third year. I could understand all of it and I had rusty GCSE French. It was a complete joke.

I also feel very uncomfortable that savvy students (or students with savvy, middle-class parents) may avoid places that are terrible while students who are less aware or less socially advantaged already may not realize they're wasting their loan on something that is unlikely to help them.

Starlightbright1 Sun 23-Nov-14 20:09:36

I have a friend who has returned to Uni as a mature student and had to drop out when she was younger. She said unlike when she was a school leaver student and it was one big long party the students are there to learn as they are paying for it.

Kez100 Sun 23-Nov-14 20:15:23

From that post, there appears to be a very big issue with the professional standards overseeing degrees. Clearly, in the examples you give, the work is not MFL degree standard (i.e level 4, 5, 6) which, by definition, should be greater than level 3 (A levels). I can certainly agree this is wrong and I agree it would indeed pick up innocent students who have no support from informed parents. Who may I ask oversees the quality of degree courses and moderates the quality of marking?

I also agree regarding the destinations - on another thread (the data thread) I mentioned out of everything, I would like to see more detailed information on destinations. Work and study is just too vague. I was shown to Unistats which is slightly better but still manages to withhold enough detail for you to be able to discern if they have gone into work they would not have been able to secure without a better education.

GoodKingQuintless Sun 23-Nov-14 20:20:08

There are so many universities in the world, they cant all be in the top 20. Yet many are still offering very good and perhaps also niche education.

By this logic, all the schools in Britain not rated in the top 20 would regarded to offer "education of poor value". And that is surely not the case? Would you only value education from one of the top 20 primaries and secondaries in the country? The World?

Kez100 Sun 23-Nov-14 20:23:56

Thinking about it, if we want all degrees to be of "good quality" then there has to be a limit to how many there can actually be. Mainly because there are only so many people of that level of intellect.

So, we would need to go back to the old days with a spilt between courses so that the degrees offering study at a non comparable level 4/5/6 are called something else. We used to have HNDs - do they still exist?

And those courses that don't even fit that level well they can have a lower accreditation.

GoodKingQuintless Sun 23-Nov-14 20:24:59

To add, my Uni back home, is ranked as 64 in the top 100 under 50 years of age, over both Loughborough, Kent, Aston and Strathclyde. UIT (in Norway) is free, and also free to foreign students.

Surely being on the top 100 in the world is still good?


JeanneDeMontbaston Sun 23-Nov-14 20:26:15

Oh, absolutely not disagreeing with points previously made about overseas universitie, kez.

I think the basic issue is communication, really.

Many people don't know what tuition fees are for at all, and also don't know what a good degree course might include. I am not blaming UK universities for charging money; I do think there is a problem with the numbers of people going into HE in the UK at the moment, some of whom obviously don't get a particularly useful three year course.

TheWordFactory Mon 24-Nov-14 09:33:30

The late twentieth century saw an enormous expansion in higher education. The numbers increased hugely.

To fund this the government needed to either increase tax, take the cash from another pot, or ask the students to fund it themselves (or part thereof ).

We now have a situation where IMVHO some university courses are worth their cost and thus students apply from all over the world ( rejecting their own, often cheaper HE). However, some courses are a complete rip off!

DontGotoRoehampton Mon 24-Nov-14 12:06:02

Completely agree about some courses being a rip-off - I wasted spent 9k last year on a course as a sub-standard university - chaotic 'organisation', amateurish staff, reading list years out of date...
Some universities definitely deserve to survive.
No way would I let my DC anywhere near that place, sadly others will be conned persuaded by the slick marketing.

DontGotoRoehampton Mon 24-Nov-14 12:07:08

Some universities definitely don't deserve to survive.

Needmoresleep Mon 24-Nov-14 12:40:52

It will be interesting to see what happens in Scotland. Good quality education, English language and no fees is proving a big draw for EU students. Fewer Scottish students are likely to be studying in Europe. I assume this will have made the more popular courses quite competitive, with Scottish students running the risk of being squeezed out by better qualified European candidates.

Setting fees at English levels would bring in more English students but probably matched by Scottish students starting to consider English Universities. And EU students would have to start paying fees. Overall quite a saving to the tax payer.

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