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University tuition fees in Wales could be going up, warns finance minister

The cuts to the Welsh governments budget has led to ‘some really difficult decisions’


The Welsh Government announced last month that it is “carefully examining” the idea of raising university tuition fees.

Finance Minister Rebecca Evans revealed that the new draft budget for 2024-25 has required a revise of spending priorities that has involved “some really difficult decisions”, which could include an increase in tuition fees.

Despite the £165m increase that Wales was provided in the Autumn Statement from Westminster, the Welsh Government has said that this block grant is not enough to respond to the extreme pressures being faced by businesses and public services in the country.

Ms Evans explained that Wales has also been hit by a £1.3bn drop in real-terms spending as a consequence of the record levels of inflation that the UK has suffered since 2021. As a result, the Government has had to make tough changes to compensate for the loss of funding, reports Wales Online.

Discussing the difficulties of the current economic situation, the Finance Minister said: “After 13 years of austerity, a botched Brexit deal, and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, this is the toughest financial situation Wales has faced since the start of devolution”.

Currently, tuition fees in Wales have been capped at £9,000 per year, which is £250 less than what students pay in other parts of the UK. Ms Evans has announced the new legislation is looking at matching tuition fees to the same amount as England. This would be an extra £750 in total that students in Wales will have to pay for a three year full-time undergraduate course than they are currently.

The Finance Minister justified the tuition fees increase, saying: “People in Wales already pay charges for a range of services, including NHS dental care, domiciliary care and tuition fees – in most cases these are set at a level lower than in England and a range of exemptions are available for people on low incomes and for those on benefits. If we decide to increase charges, proposals will be brought forward for consultation”.

The Welsh government has also reassured that the money raised from this increase in tuition fees will remain in the education system and go directly to universities.

Discussing the new announcement, a spokesperson for Universities in Wales said: “This is against the backdrop of some of the most alarming participation challenges we’ve seen in many years, with fewer Welsh students choosing to enter higher education than at any point in the past decade. The gap in participation between Wales and the rest of the UK is growing.”

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