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University tuition fees could be cut to £8,500, say sources

tuition fees

University tuition fees could be cut to £8,500, say sources

High-level discussions have been held in Whitehall over controversial proposals to cut university tuition fees from £9,250 to £8,500, sources say.

Officials from No 10, the Treasury and the Department for Education (DfE) are said to have been engaged in “lively” talks about a possible cut to fees but have struggled to thrash out an agreement in time for the chancellor’s spending review.

An announcement on changes to higher education is long overdue following the 2019 Augar review of post-18 education, which recommended tuition fees were cut from £9,250 to £7,500 as part of a radical overhaul of university funding.

According to one source, the Treasury has been pushing for a tuition fee cut to £8,500, which would reduce the amount undergraduates have to borrow and in turn the amount of unpaid debt picked up by the state if they fail to repay the fees within 30 years.

The cut is said to have been opposed by officials at the DfE and No 10, who warned it could have a devastating impact on universities’ finances when they are already under pressure from rising inflation.

Ministers have also been considering cutting the threshold at which graduates begin to repay their tuition and maintenance loans, from just over £27,000 to £23,000 as part of an overhaul of student financing designed to save the Treasury billions of pounds.

Sources suggested there may be little detail on higher education in the chancellor’s spending review on Wednesday, with an announcement at a later date once an agreement has been finalised.

Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) thinktank and special adviser to the universities minister in 2012 when tuition fees in England were raised to £9,000, said debates in Whitehall on the issue had been lively.

He thought that cuts on the scale recommended by Augar looked increasingly unlikely in the current climate, though a smaller reduction may be more palatable and might have stayed on the table.

“The Augar recommendation of a cut of almost 20%, to £7,500, has come to look implausible, especially in the context of rising inflation, as it would have a dramatic impact on institutional finances,” he wrote in a Hepi blog.

“Imagine being a Tory MP for a red wall seat with a higher education institution that might be pushed to the wall by such a cut: you are not going to hold your seat easily and, therefore, you are not going to support such a change.”

With outstanding student loans reaching £140bn last year, the Treasury is desperate to reduce the cost of the student loan system in England. Hillman later said the Treasury was “very, very keen” to save money on higher education.

“As far as I can tell there has been serious thought in the Treasury on the idea of lowering the student repayment threshold. My feeling is there will be no across the board reduction in fees right now.”

Under the current system, graduates repay 9% of their income over the first £26,575. Interest is charged on the outstanding amount but the total remaining including interest is wiped by the government 30 years after graduation.

On other possible higher education developments, Hillman said he was concerned there may be a “slowing down” of the government’s past firm commitment to have 2.4% of UK GDP spent on research and development by 2027.

A government spokesperson said: “The student loan system is designed to ensure all those with the talent and desire to attend higher education are able to do so, while ensuring that the cost of higher education is fairly distributed between graduates and the taxpayer. We do not comment on speculation in the run up to fiscal events.”

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Terrorists mount checkpoint on Gusau-Sokoto highway, kidnap 26 travellers

UAE

Terrorists in Tuesday afternoon blocked and kidnapped over 26 travellers along the Gusau-Sokoto highway.

According to reports, the bandits blocked the road around Kwaren Kirya village under Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State and abducted all the passengers from a Toyota 18 seater bus and a Volkswagen golf vehicle.

A resident of the area who pleaded anonymity for security reasons told News Point  that the situation is getting worrisome as the bandits now block the road on a daily basis.

“As I’m talking to you now, about 30 minutes ago, these bandits have blocked another side of the road. They cleared the passengers of an 18 seater bus and a golf, the situation is worrisome because it has become an everyday thing for these people to be blocking the road,” the source said.

He expressed concern about a village called Balge along the highway which he claimed harbours suspected bandits.

The source appealed to the government to deploy security outposts around the area to checkmate the activities of the criminals

“There is a village when you pass that Kwaren Kirya called Balge, about 80% of settlers in that village are bandits,” the source added.

“There was a time they were chased out of the place but a majority of the people there were bandits. We just need government to help us and station military around the area.”

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Akeredolu’s Burial: Ondo Govt Declares 2-day Public Holiday

The Ondo State Government has declared Thursday, Feb. 22 and Friday, Feb. 23 as public holidays in honour of the late former Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu.

This is contained in a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Ebenezer Adeniyan, on Tuesday in Akure.

Adeniran said the two-day holiday will allow people of the state to honour the late former governor with several programmes billed for both days.

Akeredolu died in Germany on Dec. 27, 2023 and would be buried on Friday in Owo, his hometown, according to the programme released by the family.

“The two work-free days will allow the people of the state to participate in the burial activities of the former governor,” the statement said.

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Gov. Fintiri approves N10,000 monthly allowance for corps members in the state

Adamawa State Governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, has announced a monthly payment of N10,000 for all corps members serving in the state.

Fintiri stated this while declaring open the 2024 batch ‘A’ stream 1 orientation programme for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members, deployed to Adamawa in Damare, Girei Local Government Area of the state.

Represented by deputy governor, Professor Kaletapwa Farauta, Fintiri said the payment was to cushion the effects of inflation currently being experienced in the country.

“I have no doubt in my mind that you will reciprocate this gesture by being diligent, disciplined, hardworking and committed to your various places of primary assignments for the betterment of your host communities,” he said.

Fintiri said that Adamawa remained a home away from home for corps members serving in the state.

“More so, as corps members, you are automatically bonafide indigenes of Adamawa.

“This is a privileged status conferred on you by me as the number one resident and executive governor of the state.

“I always regard you as our strategic partners in the execution of our people oriented policies and programmes, particularly on education, healthcare, agriculture and rural development,” he said.

In his address, Mr Jingi Denis, Coordinator of the NYSC in Adamawa, described the approval of N10,000 monthly allowance for corps members as first of its kind in the state and lauded Fintiri for his practical support.

He encouraged the corps members to comply strictly with all camp rules and regulations, and be obedient to the corps officials.

He said they would apply appropriate sanctions on recalcitrant corps members in line with the provisions of the NYSC Bye-Laws.

“The oath of allegiance, which you have just taken today is solemn.

“I implore you to always find time to meditate over its spirit and letters, and be guided by same throughout the service year and beyond,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that no fewer than 1,336 corps members were registered and the oath of allegiance was administered by Justice Helen Hamman-Joda of the Adamawa High Court.

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