Two days ago the University of the West of Scotland, where I work, announced the level of fees it will be charging for RUK (UK students from anywhere in the UK except Scotland) students.
The £7,250 per year fee level is actually cheaper than many institutions for the duration of a three year ordinary degree including Dundee, St Andrews, Edinburgh, Strathclyde and some courses at Robert Gordon. The problem though, is that most of the universities that would be commonly regarded in the public as being comparable to UWS – Glasgow Caledonian, Napier and (today announced) Stirling have all either capped their fees for four year courses by only asking students to pay for three years, or ensuring that the annual levy does not exceed the £27,000 cap that will be in place at EVERY institution in England and Wales. UWS have not implemented a cap for the fourth year of courses (generally the honours year), meaning that the overall fee paid for a RUK student taking an honours degree at UWS will be up to £29,000, £2,000 more expensive than the maximum levy at any institution in England and Wales, and currently only cheaper than Edinburgh and St Andrews in Scotland. This has attracted a large amount of criticism from many corners, though it does have to be pointed out that of course as highlighted above, over three years the fee structure remains very competitive.
For the record, although an employee of UWS, I have no knowledge of how the decision was reached on fee level as of course these decisions are made at a much higher level, so am absolutely not criticising the institution. I would only do this after seeing the evidential basis for how the figure for these fees was arrived at. Unfortunately as we are seeing, many others don’t seem to follow suit and are content to heavily criticise without holding all of the facts, not just relating to UWS, but relating to pretty much every Scottish University that has been put into the situation of having to set fees of this nature. This I do not agree with. A better way forward would in my opinion be to make the systems used to arrive at fee levels entirely transparent for every one of the Scottish institutions that have, or still have to set their RUK fees. Then and only then would I feel comfortable criticising, and only then would I accept as valid the criticism of others.