Tuition fees

Average Home Postgraduate Taught tuition fees

There’s a great deal of variety in the amount that UK universities charge Home students for postgraduate taught programmes but a look at the average over time shows a clear trend.

Excluding clinical programmes, by our measure the average tuition fee in 2021 was 80% higher than it was in 2012.

Based on data from the Reddin Survey, published by The Complete University Guide ( under Creative Commons License BY-SA.

Inflation Student loan

Inflation and the Postgraduate Master’s Loan

The maximum English Postgraduate Master’s Loan available has risen steadily since it was launched in 2016 but that hasn’t been enough to stop its real terms value being eroded by inflation since the pandemic.

The maximum loan for postgraduate students starting in 23/24 is currently worth £9,293 in October 2016 terms, a decline of 7% from its initial £10,000 value.


Updated modelling: Inflation and the English UG tuition fee cap

An update to our modelling of the English undergraduate tuition fee cap’s real terms value decline, based on the Bank of England’s latest CPI forecasts.

The BoE expects inflation to fall faster this year than it previously thought, though news today that CPI in March unexpectedly remained the wrong side of 10% may give pause for thought.

Of course, the C in CPI stands for Consumer. This rate represents costs for individuals, not universities. Whilst we might expect the two to move together fairly closely, a significant factor in the revision to the BoE’s forecasts for this year is the government’s changing interventions in residential energy costs. The Energy Price Guarantee doesn’t cover the commercial energy market of course, so these interventions won’t have a direct benefit for university balance sheets.

UCAS Statistics

UCAS January deadline statistics show drop in UK 18 year old application rate

This week’s release of UCAS’s January deadline statistics confirmed some alarming news. Total UK applications submitted have fallen in spite of rising demographics, lowering the 18 year old application rate for the first time in many years.

Examined by the tariff group, higher tariff institutions are continuing to receive ever higher shares of the total application pool despite already having reined in offer-making last year and many such institutions facing challenging capacity constraints. The lower- and medium-tariff institutions who are most likely to have capacity to grow meanwhile continue to be squeezed.

This mismatch in the distribution of supply and demand in the sector threatens not only many institutions themselves but also years of progress in raising entry rates and widening participation.

UCAS Statistics

Higher tariff institutions shrink their UK student intake

UCAS provider-level end of cycle statistics out today. As we already knew, entry rates for all UK nations have fallen along with total UK applicants accepted. It’s the higher tariff third of the sector driving this drop as they regain control over their intake and reduce offer making.


Measuring falling pay

No matter their grade, the real value of HE sector workers’ pay has been drifting downward for years and crashing since the pandemic.

Demographics UCAS Statistics

Medicine applicants dip

UCAS’s October deadline statistics, released this week, show that the total number of Medicine applicants has fallen by 9.7%, with the number of UK applicants having fallen by 10.8%.

This represents the first time that the number of Medicine applicants has fallen year-on-year since the 2017 cycle. You’ll recall that last year the number of new UK applicants decreased slightly but were outweighed by a surge in ‘reapplicants’. This cycle, these reapplicants have fallen back slightly and the drop in first time applicants has been much more substantial.

Note however that reapplicants still remain a significantly larger proportion of the total UK Medicine applicant pool than they did prior to the pandemic.

All other things being equal, we might expect the uptick in the number of 18 year olds in the UK population to manifest in growth in the number of Medicine applicants. First time applicants are however falling as a proportion of total 18 year olds, having hit their peak in the 2021 cycle.


Update: The falling value of the English undergraduate tuition fee

Last month we posted about the falling value of the English undergraduate tuition fee, charting how inflation was eroding the real terms value of the tuition fee cap. Since then, the Bank of England has published its latest forecasts for inflation over the next few years and is expecting CPI to peak at 13.1% at the end of 2022.

We’ve updated our chart to show the impact of this forecast, should it come to pass, up to the end of 2023.

In the forecast scenario, the £9,250 English tuition fee cap would be worth only £6,300 in 2012’s money by the end of next year. This would represent a reduction in funding of approx. 30% since the current funding regime was implemented.

UCAS Statistics

UCAS June application statistics

UCAS’s June deadline statistics are out today, giving us the first complete look at all applications submitted within the UCAS Main Scheme (i.e. before Clearing).

With over 3 million applications submitted by almost 700,000 applicants this cycle, every provider tariff group has seen growth in applications.

In the market for UK-domiciled 18 year olds the higher tariff group continues the stellar growth trajectory it’s been on for the past decade, particularly since the lifting of student number controls.

In terms of market share however, the higher tariff group appears to have plateaued and now be dipping slightly, allowing the lower tariff group the reprieve of some growth after years of decline.

Applications from those outside the UK have meanwhile also grown for all. With approx 605,000 applications in total from non-UK domiciled applicants the sector has almost recovered from the sharp drop off in applications from the EU in the 2021 cycle, bringing it a whisker away from it’s all time high of 610,000 in 2020.

Excluding those EU-domiciled applicants and just looking at applications from the rest of the world shows a persisting long term trend of rapid growth for the higher tariff group and only very recent growth for the medium and lower tariff groups.

Despite the higher tariff group’s growth however, as with home applicants its overall market share has dropped, which is the first such drop for the group since at least 2006.


The falling value of the English undergraduate tuition fee

A high inflation economy is rapidly exacerbating the problems of the current funding regime for UK higher education.

The current English undergraduate tuition fee cap is now worth only £7,450 in 2012’s money, a drop of 17.2% since the introduction of £9,000 fees. Almost half of that drop in value has taken place since the start of the pandemic.