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Tuition fee hike could mean 'two-tier education'

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Plans to almost double university tuition fees could create a ‘two-tier’ architectural education system in the UK, and delay the improvement of diversity in the profession by years, academics have warned

A report by vice chancellors’ umbrella group Universities UK (UUK), published on Tuesday (17 March), called for the axing of the current £3,145-a-year cap on fees, claiming that the education system needs ‘further injections of resource from whatever source’.Fees, according to UUK, could be recapped at as much as £7,000 at the 20-strong Russell Group of ’elite’ universities.

David Dernie, head of Leicester School of Architecture, said the move ‘heralded a new kind of two-tiered education system in the UK’. He added: ‘[Only partially offset by bursaries] it will be a choice characterised by an ability to pay.. and will have a significant negative impact on widening participation in architecture.’

Robert Mull, head of the department of architecture at London Metropolitan University, agreed: ‘Debt and the fear of debt linked to long professional courses impacts unevenly on students with differing circumstances, and threatens to further undermine initiatives to widen access into architectural education.

‘If the cap is lifted on tuition fees then renewed efforts need to be made to support vulnerable students and maintain access into architectural education for all on merit alone.’

Student body Archaos said: ‘We have been working for a decade now on promoting equality and diversity in the profession, and all our work is at risk if economic discrimination undoes the changes we have seen in the last decade.’

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