Unease over £6,000 college course as ‘hopes of bright people will be dashed’

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DEGREE courses in Doncaster could be priced out of the market it is claimed, after fees were set at £6,000.

Politicians have raised fears the figure will mean many students will no longer be able to afford to study in their home town.

University Centre Doncaster, based at Doncaster College’s High Melton site, has confirmed it intends to charge higher education tuition fees of £6,000 for the academic year 2012-13.

It says the figure is in line with the majority of colleges teaching higher education and comes at a time when most universities are intending to charge the maximum £9,000 fee.

But Coun Martin Williams, the long-serving leader of the Community Group of councillors on Doncaster Council, and MP Rosie Winterton have raised concerns.

Coun Williams fears the figure may price it out of the market.

He said: “Degree courses at Doncaster College were supposed to make degrees affordable to people in the town who may not have been able to afford to go away to study.

“My understanding what that was the whole point of it.

“This seems a very high fee for a college that was supposed to encourage children to leave sixth form and go to get a degree. They are charging two thirds of the price of an Oxbridge degree.

“I fear they may struggle to find people if that is the cost.”

Doncaster Central MP Rosie Winterton said: “These fee increases are the result of the Government slashing funding available to universities and I fear they will dash the hopes of many bright, talented people hoping to go to university.”

Maureen Sydney, director of higher education at University Centre Doncaster, said: “We have a long standing positive relationship with The University of Hull, our main undergraduate validating partner.

“This enables us to offer a first rate student experience. Our lecturing staff are highly qualified both in educational and industrial terms and our students have good levels of contact with their tutors to keep them motivated and to prepare them for working life.”

Nick Davy, Association of Colleges higher education policy manager, said: “Colleges offer affordable excellence as an alternative to university higher education.

“There is often a distinction between college ‘higher skills’ education and a standard university degree. College courses tend to have a vocational emphasis and be designed in partnership with employers.

“All this combined means college higher education is an extremely attractive choice for young people. We would expect it to become even more so as students and parents place greater scrutiny on weighing up their options to see how they can keep debts to a minimum while achieving a high-quality education.”