In a speech marking the launch of an independent review into fees, Theresa May ruled out getting rid of them completely.
May said: “it is important that both students and taxpayers contribute…. we think that those who benefit from going to university should make a contribution to that.”
Labour have pledged to scrapping tuition fees entirely.
In the speech at a college in Derby, May announced the review would have four key areas of focus including: equality of access to higher education, how universities are funded, encouraging competition within the higher education market and how to deliver required skills.
The prime minister said higher education in England is “one of the most expensive systems of university tuition in the world” and “the level of fees charged do not relate to the cost or quality of the course”.
The average graduate from English universities will have amassed a debt of over £44,000 by graduation, the highest level for students in the world.
Addressing the issue of upper management pay, May expressed her concern that Vice-Chancellors sit on the remuneration committees that determine their own pay.
The review will chaired by the author and financial services expert, Philip Augar, who has written such books as The Greed Merchants: How the Investment Banks Played the Free Market Game and Chasing Alpha: How Reckless Growth and Unchecked Ambition Ruined the City’s Golden Decade.
Angela Rayner, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said in response to the review:
“Theresa May has finally admitted that her Government got it wrong. They trebled tuition fees, abolished maintenance grants and left students graduating with debts of up to £57,000.
“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 colleges.”