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Tuition fees set to rise again
Tuition fees are set to rise again next year, official figures show
Plans by England's top universities to recruit more disadvantaged students have been released as it was revealed that tuition fees are set to rise next year.
Students starting degree courses in autumn 2013 will pay just over £8,500 on average, about £120 more than those going to university this September.
A third of English institutions will charge the maximum £9,000 as standard for a degree next year, according to official figures published by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA). Around three in four will charge the top rate for at least one of their undergraduate courses.
Ministers had originally claimed that universities would only be allowed to charge more than £6,000, and up to £9,000 in "exceptional circumstances".
Under deals which will allow universities to charge up to £9,000 as standard, institutions have committed to targets aimed at boosting their numbers of disadvantaged students.
These "access agreements", published by OFFA, show that while many leading universities do plan to increase their intake of poorer students, in many cases the numbers will still be small.
Cambridge University's access agreement for 2013/14 shows that it plans to boost numbers from "low participation neighbourhoods" from a baseline of 3.1% to 4% by 2016/17 while Oxford's agreement says it will increase its numbers from a 9.4% baseline to 13%.
Youngsters from "low participation neighbourhoods" are those who are least likely to go on to higher education, and are usually from disadvantaged, poorer homes.
Any university that wants to charge fees of more than £6,000 must have an access agreement. These agreements are reviewed each year, with institutions that fail to meet their agreed targets on recruitment and retention facing fines or losing the right to charge more than £6,000.
Sir Martin Harris, director of Fair Access, said: "Predicted spending on both financial support and outreach activity is up significantly compared to spending under the old fee and support arrangements although, as with 2012/13 agreements, on financial support the balance has changed from predominantly bursaries and scholarships to a mixture of bursaries and scholarships, fee waivers and other support such as accommodation discounts."
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