In response to your feedback, comments and petitions about the change to Books Plus and university fees, we have detailed below a plan to get answers to your questions, to deepen the understanding of the reasons behind the bursary changes, and to ensure all decisions like this in the future are made in conjunction with students.
Immediately we will;
Take your feedback, petitions, Facebook messages and emails directly to the Vice Chancellor and discuss this issue with him. We will feedback the outcomes of these discussions to you.
Provide more information to any student that wishes to access it. Please e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to meet and talk through all the changes or raise further queries or questions regarding the bursaries or fee changes. I’ll then take this to the University Vice Chancellor, to get answers for you.
Find out how ARU communicated the 3% fee increase to 2012 and 2013 starters and report back to you. We will also make sure communication is better next year for the 2013 starters who will be moving into their final year.;
Be part of all further Access Agreement Working Groups. Ensuring students are part of any decisions made.
A quick history of how this all came about;
In 2010 Parliament voted to agree that universities could charge a maximum of £9000 in fees per year to UK undergrads (we, the Students’ Union, were outside with 50,000 other students protesting against this). The outcome of the vote fundamentally changed the way Higher Education was funded and although a large burden of responsibility for covering the cost of education was put onto students with a fee increase, overall across the UK funding for universities was reduced. What this basically means, is that while fees to students went up, the overall money available to spend on running universities went down.
Prior to 2012 there was more government support for universities and lower fees for students. Anglia Ruskin students starting before 2012 received a generous bursary under the funding system that existed at the time. After 2012, the funding system changed altogether which makes comparing the two systems impossible.
Anglia Ruskin specifically;
When the fee cap was lifted ARU chose to charge £8300, many other universities, including those similar to ARU were charging the maximum of £9000. This turned out not be a sustainable model. Quite simply there wasn't enough money, and after two years of new intakes (students starting in 2012 and 2013) ARU had little choice but to charge new students (starting in 2014 and for the foreseeable future) £9000 per year.
The Students’ Union president at the time expressed disagreement against this fee rise at the University's Board of Governors meeting where it was proposed (Board of Governors is the highest level decision making body of Anglia Ruskin).
At the time when fees were set at £8300 there was little extra money available to give all students more than £100 per year in bursary, the university decided it was favourable to make fees lower than to give students more bursary. The students who required more financial support (for example those from lower than average income backgrounds or students with disabilities requiring more support) received more financial support and rightly so.
Now fees have risen to £9000, there is greater flexibility to provide more in bursaries and although money is still tight we fully support new students in receiving £400 in bursary.
I’d like to apologise; our previous article regarding a change to bursaries for students starting in 2014 stated that students starting in 2012 and 2013 would pay a maximum of £8300. This was a mistake and we're very sorry for any confusion this has caused. To be clear, students starting in 2012 and 2013 pay £8300 in their first year of study but this increases annually, roughly in line with inflation - 3% this year.
Your Students' Union;
We were involved in the writing of the 2014/15 Access Agreement (see below) which affects 2014 starters and we're pleased to see an increase in bursary, which goes some of the way to offsetting the £700 increase in fees. We have also been working with ARU to write the 2015/16 Access Agreement.
Our position when working with the university on Access Agreements is always to get money into students pockets, instead of fee waivers. Having recently graduated from ARU I know how important a bursary is and I really can understand and sympathise with students who are in between two wholly different bursary schemes.
Access Agreements, bursaries, fees; there's a lot of info - here's the facts:
Undergraduate UK students who started their course in 2012 and 2013 began their first year paying fees of £8300, which usually increases every year by about 3% (in line with inflation). ARU decided not to raise fees in 2013, but fees have increased this year. This information should have been communicated to you by Anglia Ruskin University and Student Finance England.
Undergraduate UK students starting in 2014 will pay £9000 per year (this is not going to increase as the maximum universities are allowed to charge is £9000).
Because Anglia Ruskin charges more than £6000 per year, they have to provide an Access Agreement to OFFA (the Office For Fair Access - the government organisation responsible for making sure universities comply with the legislation) which details how the university will encourage students who find it difficult to access higher education to attend and support students while they are here.
Access Agreements don’t apply to students funded by the NHS, studying at Postgraduate level or international students.
We were part of the university’s Access Agreement Working Group which helped create the 2014 and 2015 document. We are also part of the group who monitor the impact of all current Access Agreements.
HEFCE funded students starting in 2014 will receive £400 each year in credit to spend in various places on campus.
HEFCE funded students who started in 2012 and 2013 will receive £100 each year to spend in John Smiths bookshop. 60% of 2012 and 2013 starters benefitted from some kind of fee reduction from the £8300 course fee.
For students who have expressed that they are struggling financially with the £100 bursary we ask you to make an appointment at the Money Advice Service in Student Services. They can offer advice on money management as well as any benefits you may be entitled to. The Money Advice service can also help students access the student hardship fund.
Anglia Ruskin Students’ Union President 2014-15