According to new analysis by the Student Loan Calculator website, domestic university tuition fees in England are now the highest in the world.
The average annual cost of £9,188 now exceeds that of the average domestic student at a public university in the United States, who pays the equivalent of £7,518 per annum.
Within Europe, England’s fees dwarf those in other countries, as students in Germany, France and Belgium are all charged less than £450 per year. Scotland and several Scandinavian countries do not charge any fees for university.
However, some feel that English fees are acceptable given their reputation as a world leader in higher education.
The University of Oxford is currently ranked first in The Times Higher Education World University Rankings, while Cambridge and Imperial College London also sit in the top ten.
The only other European country with a university in the world’s top 25 is Switzerland.
Sorana Vieru, Vice President Higher Education at the National Union of Students, believes that the current fees risk making higher education inaccessible to many students.
“Fees in the UK are set to increase over the next few years, and worryingly the government is proposing to charge more for the best Universities,” she said.
“Education is a public good and a universal right, and should be treated as such.”
Means-tested tuition fees of up to £1,000 were introduced in 1998 by Tony Blair’s Labour government as part of the Teaching and Higher Education Act.
Fees were increased to £3000 as part of the Higher Education Act of 2004 and, following the Browne Review in 2010, the cap was trebled to £9,000 by the Conservative, Liberal Democrat coalition government. Last year, a further raise of £250 was quietly announced by the government to bring fees in line with inflation.
Tommy Cliff, a third-year mathematics student, feels that fee increases haven’t been reflected by an increase in quality: “I have not seen an example of the extra money I pay being put to good use.
“It leaves a sour taste knowing that I could have received the same level of education in Europe and paid less.”
A Department for Education spokesperson emphasised that they are determined for everyone with the potential to benefit from higher education to be given the opportunity to do so.
“Our reforms will drive up the standard of teaching at universities and other higher education providers so students get the best return for their investment,” they added.