Universities in England can be forced to lower their fees under the radical new regulations by the Office for Students (OfS), an independent entity of the Department of Education.
Constituted for offering equal rights to education, OfS will now have the authority to administer the university admissions and ensure students from all backgrounds, regardless of their race, culture or community, get equal rights to secure entrance even in the best of universities.
Some of the privileged universities from England charge an annual fee as high as nine thousand hundred fifty pounds (£9250). However, if the OfS deems fit, it could direct the universities to lower their prices to accommodate students from ordinary or low-income families.
Universities Minister, Jo Johnson, assures those who are deprived of access to elitist institutions despite academic qualification:
‘For the thousands of young people collecting their A-Level results this month and starting university in September, they can be confident that the OfS will be a champion for students.’
Moreover, an approval for a maximum acceptance fee will be necessitated for all institutes offering higher education.
Failure to attune to diversity could result in OfS interfering with the university’s fee structure and admission process.
In addition to making sure that Britain’s top educational institutes are not socially exclusive to the affluent, OfS will also reserve the right to penalize any institution with fines up to five hundred thousand pounds (£500,000) or two percent (2%) of its revenue, whichever higher, in case it fails to safeguard the interests of the students.
Universities in England frantic to abide by the new rules
While many agree that the top universities in England could not be more biased towards students from wealthy backgrounds, the evident disparity not only restricts the life chances of those who cannot afford the inflated education costs but also impairs the society at large.
In frantic attempts to abide by the new rules, several classified universities are now considering accepting lower-class students into their institutions, irrespective of their grades. Oxford University, one of the world’s most visited and sought after universities in England, has already set aside twenty-five percent (25%) of its placements to the deprived class.
In a bid to discourage universities from unreasonably controlling grades and coercing students into taking up unproductive courses with an eye to earn thousands of extra bucks in revenue, Jo Johnson, assures that the recent move towards empowering OfS will keep universities in check. He stated that the OfS has always made and will continue to make a noteworthy contribution to the education sector in England by helping students from all over the country, gain quality and value-for-money education.
Meanwhile, chair of the OfS, Sir Michael Barber, clarifies that the organization will primarily focus on grading issues and preposterous college courses that continue to afflict the student community, examples of which are rapid grade inflation or using unconditional offers to ‘pressure-sell’ worthless courses to impressionable youngsters.
On the whole, in a country where the status and the hierarchy of its universities make a severe socio, economic and political impact, the recent decision to authorize OfS to regulate student admissions does manage to address the unignorable problem in today’s times, at least to some extent. We can expect other universities in England to soon follow suit and abide by the OfS rules.
With fines of up to five hundred thousand pounds £500,000 or 2 percent of an institution’s income, if it does not ‘act in the interests of students’, can we anticipate elitist universities in England to open their exclusive enclaves to the underprivileged class, not mainly due to their high grades, as previously stipulated?