The coalition government has voted to raise tuition fees in England to up to £9,000 per year
The controverisal plans were narrowly approved by MP as violent protests took place in Westminster.
It is understood three ministerial aides resigned over the issue as the fee rise was passed by 323 to 302 votes.
According to the BBC, Scotland Yard says six police officers were hurt in clashes between police and students putside the houses of Parliament.
Speaking about the decision, Jeremy Till, dean of architecture and the built environment at the University of Westminster, said: ‘The fees vote marks a tragic day for this country, not just because it will inevitably restrict access to higher education and potentially threaten architecture and other humanities courses round the country, but also as the harbinger for throwing education over to the vagaries and distortions of the marketplace, thereby instantly destabilising what has been built up over years.’
Previous story (15.10.10)
Schools slam higher tuition fees
Architecture schools have hit out at a report saying the government should allow universities to charge more than £12,000 a year for tuition
The Browne Review into higher education finances, published this week (12 October), sets out plans to create a free market in tuition fees.
Heads of architecture schools this week slammed the proposal, which comes just a week ahead of huge expected cuts to university funding in the Comprehensive Spending Review.
Robert Mull, head of architecture at London Metropolitan University, said: ‘Architecture courses are longer at undergraduate level than other courses, so the effect of higher fees on schools will be greater.
‘Students who come from a background with a fear of debt will be discouraged.’
Under former BP chief John Browne’s proposals, students will still have their fees paid upfront by the government, only repaying the money once they earn more than £21,000, compared to the current £15,000 barrier. The report says only the wealthiest 40 per cent would repay everything.
Jeremy Till, dean of architecture and the built environment at the University of Westminster, predicts some universities will clamour to charge very high fees while others will maintain lower rates. ‘It will create a two-tier university structure, which is strange because architecture is not a two-tier system,’ he said.
‘We have to be allowed more flexible routes to architectural education, and to do that the RIBA has to be more flexible and [relinquish] its Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 stranglehold.’
Though the report covers England and Wales it could set a precedent for changes in Scotland. Gordon Murray, head of architecture at the University of Strathclyde, said: ‘Architecture schools are long used to being inventive – an attribute inherent in the creative process – but further reductions in funding will require a more flexible approach.
‘The removal of the cap will certainly lead to greater variety of courses on offer, as some schools choose this mechanism to increase funding possibilities and others may seek to tighten up on current offerings.’
The government expects to move quickly on the recommendations, with another announcement due in the coming weeks.