Cuts to tuition fees that would save students at least £5,000 over a three-year course are being considered by the Chancellor, it has been reported.
Philip Hammond is looking at capping annual charges at £7,500 instead of the current level of £9,250. The reported move comes amid concern from Conservatives about their low support base among young people, who voted for Labour in huge numbers in the June election.
The Government has come under intense pressure to ease the burden of student finances after warnings that most graduates will never clear their debts.
Universities have also faced a wave of criticism for paying out staggering salaries while those signing up for courses are plunged tens of thousands of pounds into the red.
Currently, universities charge £9,250 for courses in arts and humanities, the same price as those which are more expensive to run, such as the sciences.
Differing fees for different subjects could also be introduced and may depend on the course’s employment rate, the paper reported.
Capping interest rates on student loans and increasing the salary threshold for their repayment is also being considered.
Graduates from Russell Group institutions in subjects such as computer science and economics typically earn many times more than arts students from new universities.
“There are too many universities where kids are not getting a high skilled job,” Robert Haflon, Conservative MP and chair of the education select committee, told The Sunday Times.
“We have to look at value for money for tuition fees,” he added.
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The proposals will be revealed in full by Mr Hammond as part of the Autumn Budget, it is believed.
The Government is reported to have commissioned analysis which shows how some universities have amassed millions in surplus income from fees.
The Labour Party, which has pledged to abolish tuition fees, said the proposals did not go far enough to help disadvantaged students.
Angela Rayner, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said: “Labour has long been calling for the Government to take action on rising student debt, including rethinking their eye-watering interest rate hikes and raising the repayment threshold for…