UK unis ‘to be the most expensive in world’

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Academics, students and community groups are celebrating a victory after University College London (UCL), one of the country’s leading institutions, agreed at last to introduce the £7.85 per hour ‘living wage’ for all staff, including cleaners working for contract companies.

There are now nine London universities promising to pay the living wage.

Commitments have already been made by Queen Mary, London School of Economics, Birkbeck, Goldsmiths, School of Oriental and African Studies, London Business School, Institute of Education and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Meanwhile the University and College Union (UCU) warned yesterday that England, already the fourth most costly place to study, will become the most expensive country in the world to get a degree at a public university.

This is if the forthcoming review of university funding leads to an increase in tuition fees to £5,000-a-year.

Recent reports have suggested that fees as high as £7,000 and £10,000 are being considered.

Analysis of fees charged by publicly-funded universities around the world revealed that increasing fees to £5,000-a-year would be enough to give England the unenviable tag of supplier of the world’s most expensive degrees.

Figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) revealed that six of the 22 developed nations it scrutinised charged no fees at all.

The analysis also revealed that the international average annual fee was $2,259 a year (£1,427 at the current exchange rate).

Only Iceland, America and Norway charged more than England.

Iceland, Norway and England are the only European countries that charge more than the international average.

The union warned that the analysis suggested that plans to allow more for-profit private universities would lead to even higher fees.