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The Corporation

Posted: 10/10/11

College announces “affordable and accessible” university-level study

Vision West Notts has underlined its commitment to providing local communities with affordable higher education.

The college has announced its university-level course fees for 2012/13.

From September next year, the cost of studying a full-time higher education course at the college will be £5,500.  Part-time course fees have been set at £3,000.

It comes as many universities – and some colleges that run higher education courses – prepare to charge undergraduates the maximum £9,000-a-year tuition fee from 2012/13.

The government has lifted the cap on tuition fees as part of a radical shake-up of higher education funding and student finance, which will see students expected to contribute more to the cost of their education.

Rather than provide funding directly to universities and colleges, the government will instead provide loans to students, who will then pay fees to the institutions they have chosen to study at.

However, students do not pay their fees upfront – and loans are only repayable once they are earning more than £21,000-a-year; up from £15,000 under the current system.

Principal and chief executive, Asha Khemka OBE, said the college had worked hard to ensure university-level study was affordable to people from all backgrounds.

Mrs Khemka said:  “Our costs will be less than the government’s recommended range of £6,000 to £9,000-a-year and substantially lower than what most colleges and universities are preparing to charge.

“However, we recognise tuition fees are a concern to many people.  That’s why it’s important would-be students understand they don’t pay their fees upfront.  In fact, they repay only a relatively small percentage of their salary – and only when they’re earning over £21,000.”

Grants covering their entire course fees are available to students from households with an income of less than £25,000.  Those living in households with an income of less than £42,600 are eligible for a partial grant.

In addition, the college is planning to set up a £100,000 bursary fund to ensure students in financial hardship receive extra support to complete their studies.

“We anticipate many of our students will be eligible for some form of financial assistance, so course fees should never be a barrier to learning, or gaining the qualifications that will help them get on in life,” added Mrs Khemka.

“Furthermore, almost three-quarters of our students secure graduate-level positions after completing their courses.  So investing in education is about investing in your future.”

The college – which offers 22 university-level courses including HNCs, HNDs, foundation degrees and one full honours degree – has almost 700 higher education students.  These range from full-time students who have progressed from A Levels or equivalent courses, to part-time students who combine work with study.

Eleanor Taylor, the college’s head of higher education, said colleges offered people an “affordable yet high-quality alternative” to university – and stressed that lower course fees were not the only advantage.

“Other benefits include savings on accommodation and living costs by studying closer to home, and smaller class sizes, which means we can provide better one-to-one support and more contact time with tutors,” said Ms Taylor.

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) – the independent body responsible for maintaining high quality and standards – awarded Vision West Notts the highest grade possible for its higher education provision following its latest review in 2010.

Further information:

Vision West Notts runs both further and higher education courses.

A further education course is usually up to Level 3, which is equivalent to an A Level or Advanced Apprenticeship.  These develop the underpinning skills to progress on to higher education.

Higher education provides programmes of advanced study, starting at Higher National Certificate (HNC), Higher National Diploma (HND), foundation degree and honours degree level, leading to Masters and Doctorates.

The decision to allow universities and colleges to charge students a maximum of £9,000-a-year followed the Browne Review – an independent review of higher education funding and student finance by former BP chief executive Lord Browne, who published his findings in November 2010.

His report recommended major changes to higher education funding including raising the cap on the level of fees that institutions can charge, and increasing the income level at which graduates begin to pay back their loans to £21,000.