TUITION fees in the UK are among the most expensive in the world.

In 2012, the Government’s move to treble tuition fees from £3,000 to £9,000 pushed the UK’s funding system into a new arena.

British students now have to fork out £9,250 a year for tuition, are graduating with average debts of £50,800 and paying an interest rate on loans of 6.1 per cent.

But what is the Government doing about it? Prime Minister Theresa May launched a review into post-18 education this week saying it needs to be more “flexible and diverse” than it is today.

The year-long review fulfils a commitment made in the 2017 Conservative manifesto and will be led by finance expert and author Philip Augar.

The PM said it will focus on four key questions: ensuring education is accessible to all, the funding system, encouraging choice and competition and providing the skills the country needs.

When formally announcing the review on Tuesday (February 20), Mrs May said that level of tuition fees charged does not relate to the cost or quality of the course.

Chard & Ilminster News:

FEES: Tuition fees in England are now among the most expensive in the world, the Government has admitted - so how does our system stack up against other nations?

In a speech at Derby College for Further Education on Tuesday, Mrs May said: “We must have an education system at all levels which serves the needs of every child.

“And if we consider the experience which many young people have of our system as it is, it is clear that we do not have such a system today.

“To give youngsters the skills they need to succeed, they need “an education and training system which is more flexible and more diverse than it is today.”

The debate over tuition fees was initially sparked in part by a Labour Party election pledge to scrap tuition fees for future students. Labour has said it will scrap tuition fees and and bring back maintenance grants for students.

But Mrs May has ruled out completely scrapping tuition fees.

She says getting rid of tuition fees would push up taxes, leave universities competing with schools and hospitals for funding and lead to the re-introduction of a cap limiting the number of university places.

Mrs May insisted it is right that students contribute to the cost of their education, but said the review will look at how much they contribute, the terms of their contribution and the duration. “I believe – as do most people, including students – that those who benefit directly from higher education should contribute directly towards the cost of it,” Mrs May said.“That is only fair.”

But shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, said the review is ‘an unnecessary waste of time’.

“This long-winded review is an unnecessary waste of time. Labour will abolish tuition fees, bring back maintenance grants and provide free, lifelong education in further education college,” Mrs Rayner said.

Mrs May admitted that tuition fees are among the most expensive in the world and acknowledged the public’s concerns about the levels of debt faced by graduates.

Compared with other countries, the cost to an English student of going to a UK university is high. In Germany, there are no tuition fees for public universities for both domestic and international students, while in Denmark, higher education is free for EU students. In the Netherlands, standard fees start at around 2,000 euros (£1,700) but in the United States fees for public universities in 2017/18 ranged from an average of 9,970 US dollars (about £7,100) for in-state tuition and fees, to 25,620 dollars (about £18,300) for out-of-state tuition and fees, according to one estimate. Costs for private universities can be even higher.

Dr Tim Bradshaw, chief executive of the Russell Group, which represents 24 leading universities, welcomed the review but said the review panel needs to look at all aspects of university funding.

“We look forward to engaging with the review, which will need to consider how to provide sustainable funding for universities, alongside fairness to students and taxpayers, and improvements to student choice and access.”

“It will be important for the review panel to look at all aspects of university funding, rather than focusing on tuition fees in isolation. A whole-system approach is needed to avoid unintended consequences of changes in one area impacting on another.”

The review, pledged by the Prime Minister last autumn, comes amid widespread concern about the debt burden on students and high interest rates on loans, as well as whether students are receiving value for money.

Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), said: “The review team start with enormous expectations on their shoulders.

“People want them to reduce tuition fees for some or all courses, lower the interest rate on student loans, bring back maintenance grants, help part-time and mature learners and bolster further education colleges.