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Top up fees could kill off four year degrees warns ICE

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PLANS TO allow universities to charge students up to £3,000 per year in fees could spell the death of four year MEng civil engineering degrees, the ICE has warned.

Instead it called on the government to lower its target of putting 50% of school leavers into higher education to free up funds.

Last week MPs narrowly voted to take the higher education bill to the next stage. Under the bill universities would be able to charge students up to £3,000 a year, repayable when they earn £15,000 or more when in full time work.

It is understood that the elite 'Russell Group' of universities , which includes Cambridge and Bristol, would immediately charge all students the full amount with most others following suit (see analysis opposite).

MEng degrees are said to offer a fast track to chartered engineer status and MEng graduates are preferred by many civils firms.

The ICE fears that the extra debt will be a deterrent and would see students graduating from four year degrees with debts of up to £28,000 when combined with tuition fees and living expenses.

The ICE believes that fees would be unnecessary if the government lowered its target of getting 50% of students into higher education. It argues that money is being spread too thinly over too many students.

'Higher education funding was spread over 5% of the population in the 1960s. The number in higher education now stands at 42% and the government sees this figure rising to 50% in the future, ' said ICE director of membership Jon Prichard.

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