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  1. A couple of days ago, Peter Karran announced that the DEC would provide a maximum of £9000 per year towards the fees charged by universities, and that students would have to meet the difference themselves in addition to paying £5,000 extra per year for every year at university after the third. What isn't being announced is how variable fees for Manx students arefrom 2012 onwards, how very uncertain the future is even after this year, and how this stands to affect Manx students. This has, understandably, resulted in the misconception that we will be no worse off under these arrangements than UK students are. One reason why this view may be wrong is that UK students pay their fees off gradually, whilst non-UK students, such as those from the Isle of Man, are expected to pay up front at the beginning of each year. Unless the DEC has a system of loans and repayments already set up, this means that some students are likely to be unable to afford to go to university to study courses such as science and medicine and/or attend certain universities. Another reason why such a view is misconceived is that it assumes that fees are not going to be much above the £9,000 limit per year set for UK/EU students. This is not true, and a number of universities have decided or are considering charging Isle of Man students full overseas rates. It's also not true in the case of medicine/dentistry courses, for which Manx students are being charged the maximum fees at most, if not all universities. To get a sense of how this might affect students from the Isle of Man, I've found the following fee structures at a number of universities. I want to emphasise that in all but Cambridge Universty's case, these are fees payable for students starting university this year (and that Cambridge is particularly worth a look, as it might cast an ominous sign of things to come). Note: The figures for medicine below do not take into account any extra support which might be offered students studying this subject. Part of the reason for this is that it's not at all certain what form this support is going to take, and how it takes into account the different fee structures for different types of course. See the comment at the bottom of the post for a bit more information on this. Imperial College London: Imperial has decided to charge Manx students the full overseas rate. Sciences/Engineering: £23,000 per year. This means that a student on a three year course would have to pay £42,000 for a degree, after taking into account the DEC's support, This is distinctly worse in absolute terms than the £27,000 a UK student would have to pay, even if loans are made available. For a four year course, the price would rise to £61,000. Medicine: Non-clinical years are £26,250 a year, and clinical years £40,000. This means that, after taking into account the DEC's support, students would have to pay £137,500 pounds for their entire degree. Oxford University: For the current year, Oxford is charging Manx students £9,000 per year for most courses. However, this does not take into account additional college fees of roughly £6,000 per year. And there's no guarrantee that this will be the case for 2013/2014 (see entry for Cambridge University Below). Most undergraduate degrees (incl. college fees): £15,000 per year. After DEC support, this amounts to £18,000 for the whole three year degree. Less than UK students pay, but if there's no loan available to cover this their courses will be out of reach for most people. Medicine: Pre-clinical years are £9,000 per year, clinical years are £22,500 per year. For the full degree, this will cost a Manx student £50,500 pounds after DEC support is taken into account, £5,000 more than UK students. Warwick University: Warwick is charging Island students full overseas fees. Economics, Engineering, Science (excl. Mathematics): £17,600 per year. A three year degree student can expect to incur personal costs of £25,800 for their degree, roughly what a UK student will pay. For a four year degree, this rises to £39,400 in total, nearly £4,000 more than their UK counterparts. Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences (excl. Economics), Mathematics: £13,800 per year. A three year degree student will incur personal costs of £14,400 after taking into account the DEC's support. Medicine (figures for the four year graduate entry course): Year 1 is £16,115, Years 2-4 are £26,490 per year. Thus the cost to a Manx student is £64,585 after taking DEC support into account. This is about £28,000 more than UK students. Cambridge University: For 2012/2013 Cambridge is charging similar fees to those of Oxford. However, they also say that from 2013/2014 onwards, they will be charging Manx students the full overseas rate in addition to college fees of £4500-£5500 per year. (2013/2014 fees incl. college fees) Medicine: around £36, 494 per year. Cost to a Manx student for a full degree (after DEC support) will be £147,470, £102,470 more than UK students will pay. Engineering and Science (excl. Mathematics): £24,800 per year. Cost to a Manx student for a full three year degree (after DEC support): £47,400, £20,000 more than a UK student's fees. Mathematics: around £19,511 per year. Cost to a Manx student for a full three year degree (after DEC support): £31,533, over £4,000 more than a UK student's fees. Arts (excl. Music), Humanities, and Social Sciences: £18,011 per year. Cost to a Manx student for a full three year degree (after DEC support): £27,033, roughly what a UK student pays. An Uncertain Future? Cambridge is unusual in that they state their 2013/2014 fees for Island students. Most universities do not, so whilst there are universities (such as Bath and Durham) currently offering degrees (excl. Medicine) to Manx students for £9,000 per year, it's possible that, like with Cambridge, this is merely a 'grace year' and that they're planning to charge overseas rates for subsequent years. It should also be mentioned that a lot of universities have not yet declared their Island fees, so we don't even know how bad things will be this year, never mind in coming years. What Does this Mean? Well, if there is no loans/repayments system in place, it means that most Manx students simply will not be able to afford to study at most of the UK's leading universities, or study medicine anywhere. For instance, in Mathematics, the UK's leading departments are generally regarded as Cambridge, Oxford, Warwick, Imperial, and Bristol (roughly in that order), with all but one of those charging well over the £9,000 cap. Sciences and Engineering are also likely to be out of reach for a lot of people, especially if they wanted to persue the four year MSci degree, especially when you remember that the median wage on the Isle of Man is £450 a week. Also, part of the reason I've provided the most detailed figures I could find is to show that even if loans are brought in, in some cases Manx students are still going to be substantially worse off compared with their peers in England. Who's to Blame? Primarily, it's the UK's Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills, and the universities themselves. In previous years, fees for Manx and Channel Island's students have been based on the cost of educating a single student, in part reflecting the close interaction between our economies. Whilst our economies haven't grown any further apart (indeed, since we stopped getting the VAT subsidy, it could be argued that we're contributing more to the UK's economy than before), DIUS seems to have been fairly indifferent in organizing a general 'cost' based fee for Island students; at most they seem to have 'invited' universities to charge us the Home/EU rates. As for the universities, it's pretty well known that they have a tendency to 'milk' overseas students, some more ruthlessly than others, and so it's not surprising that a few are happy to slip a few more students into that category. At first it might be argued that this is necessary to cover the costs of teaching UK undergraduates, and in part that's true. However, a remarkably small proportion of a university's income is spent solely on academic staff. An awful lot goes into providing big ticket extra curricular facilities like sports parks, a lot is absorbed by typically large and inefficient administrative structures, and a fair bit is simply wasted - I know of one university which bought and installed a sink which automatically rises/lowers according to the users height at a cost of £20,000; the same amount that was spent on the teaching budget of an entire department for a whole year. However, the DEC is at least guilty of silence and not informing the public of what it's policies actually mean and how they're likely to affect Manx students from 2012 onwards. Nearly all the information above is in the public domain, so it's simply unthinkable that the DEC and Peter Karran don't also have access to it. And yet the most we're told is that grants will be capped at £9,000; a sum which is slightly misleading because it mirrors the UK's fee cap and doesn't suggest how much extra money Manx students could be expected to pay or indicate just how uncertain the future is. What Can be Done? Little can be done to lower fees. We have very little leverage with so small a population, and so if that's what universities want to charge us, that's what they will charge. This leaves us with a few options. Regardless of what we do about fees, the DEC urgently needs to set up a central database of all university fees and circulate the data around schools so that current and future students may more easily make a decision on where to apply/accept as informed as possible. It should also act to determine, and publish the 2013/2014 fees as soon as is possible, even if this makes the department unpopular. We could set up a loan and repayment system, if this has not already been done. However, this might not save as much money as is hoped since the government will still have to pay fees up front with the expectation that they will all be repayed. It might also increase administrative costs. We could limit support to certain degrees and universities. I'm not particularly fond of this suggestion, but if we can't afford to fund students at overseas rates it might be worth looking at. We could limit support to students who achieve certain grades. Sounds ok in principle, but we'd have to be sure to address and bias from King Bill's and privately tutored students who enjoy an advantage over ordinary students, perhaps making such support heavily dependent on means testing. I don't know how likely this is, or even if it's possible, but we could look at negotiating with devolved regions such as Scotland or Wales, dispensing with England entirely: namely, a set number of places at their universities at their Home rates, in return for a lump sum payment into their education system. Why Scotland and Wales? Well, apart from the fact that their fees for Scottish and Welsh students are lower than England's, they're also a lot smaller. We have virtually zero leverage in England, but two hundred or so guarranteed students and a decent amount paid in might be an attractive proposition to the devolved nations (if they have any sympathy for us!). Postscript: In light of the above, next time you pass the nunnery with it's £750,000 costs per annum, just think: that could be thirty students studying a science at Cambridge, or twenty-odd students studying medicine. Remember that when the Government starts blathering on about its committment to higher education. EDITED: Correcting some figures for Imperial, Warwick, and Oxford FURTHER EDITS TO COLLECT ALL INFORMATION ON THE FRONT PAGE: So it looks as if medicine etc may be treated as special cases - but there's no knowing what part of the required fees the DEC will actually pay. Interesting also that it only mentions clinical years. This does not take into account: Some overseas rates which don't make a distinction between clinical and preclinical; and PBL/Integrated courses which typically cost the same for each year of the course. More Information on Individual Universities (to be updated as I come accross the data): Manchester University: I'm not entirely sure, but "If ordinarily resident in the UK as the result of having moved from either the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man (‘the islands’) for the purpose of undertaking a course, you will be considered to be ordinarily resident in the islands, not the UK." makes it sound like Isle of Man students will be charged international fees. These range from £12,000 per year for History, to £16,700 per year for Electric and Electronic Engineering. Queen Mary College, University of London: £9,000 per year for most courses, but £10,661 per year for pre-clinical, science and engineering courses, and £19,980 for clinical medicine and dentistry. Bristol University, Royal Holloway (University of London), St. Andrews University, University of East Anglia, Hull University: To be confirmed. King's College London, University of York, University of Leicester, University of Leeds: No definitive information found. University of Bath, Durham University, University of Glasgow, University College London, University of Central Lancashire, University of Edinburgh, University of Liverpool: Home/EU fees.
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