As overseas students it has come to our attention that the tuition fees have increased substantially for the 12/13 academic year with little to no warning. This has been compounded by a number of additional issues, including being promised a new building for which the LPS department did not receive, as it was given to another department. This has led us to the only conclusion that overseas students are seen as nothing more than a way for the school to balance the budget. This is therefore a petition against the unacceptable tuition increase for continuing overseas students.
Overseas tuition fees in the 10/11 year were £10,475, and were raised to £10,900 in 11/12. This constitutes a change of 4% and can certainly be seen as reasonable, even though this number is still higher than the annual inflation rate in Great Britain. However, from 11/12 to 12/13 we have seen the fees shoot up to £12,300, an increase of 12.8%.
This is entirely unacceptable for a number of reasons. Not only is this an absurd increase, for law students this has been compounded by the removal of a number of courses which were supposed to be offered to third year students, the failed promise of a new building, and absolutely no warning.
These grievances have been echoed by students in other departments. We have been approached by Media and Film students who were promised the latest and best equipment, as well as extra workshops; which were both unfulfilled.
Despite the fact that overseas students were presented with an option to elect a ‘fixed’ tuition rate, as opposed to a variable rate there seems to be no record keeping of who has and has not elected which rate. As a result the majority of overseas students are required to pay the tuition at the increased 12/13 rate.
Perhaps the most distressing point here is that apart from overseas students, no one else has seen these drastic changes in tuition. For example, home students who were enrolled prior to the new fee rates have seen their fees rise from £3,375 in 11/12 to £3,465 in 12/13, an increase of 2.6%. We would like to know how the University can justify only a 2.6% increase for home students compared to that of 12.8% for overseas. Home fees students attend the same lectures as us, have access to the same University facilities, and end up with the same degree.
Having already posted this question to the University twice before, this was the answer received:
"In relation to your query on the 2012-13 fees, the 2012-13 fees were set by the University Council in November 2011 and are in keeping with our position as one of the leading institutions within the UK."
This borders on insulting; this can barely be construed as an answer, and seems to be nothing more than a very poor attempt at deflecting blame. Having looked at other top institution fees we would like to note that although some have increased fees, these are in line with inflation or have been the same for a number of years. Birmingham for example states that fees will only rise in line with inflation. Oxford University, although having higher fees than Sussex, has only increased their overseas fees by a reasonable amount, close to the standard variable rate in the UK. Oxford University and London School of Economics’ overseas tuition fees increased from 11/12 to 12/13 by 3.9%.
Kent University’s overseas student fee has increased by a mere 3.5%. These percentage increases contradict Sussex’s statement that they are increasing their fees to be “in keeping with [their] position as one of the leading institutions in the UK”.
It has also been made clear by fellow Canadian law student peers studying at City University, in the heart of London, that tuition is only £11,250 for 12/13. Furthermore, £11,250 includes all text books for the year. We, the Law overseas students at Sussex, have to pay tuition of £12,300 plus purchase text books, therefore confusing the matter further as to why our fees are so high.
To increase the fees so drastically in the course of one year is unfair and is compounded by the fact that the tuition fee was not made available to continuing students until late August. The majority of students rely on very specific financial arrangements to fund their studies, and to increase fees in the middle of one’s studies with little notice has the ability to put our academic future at risk.
We feel disappointed and let down by Sussex University, and this will reflect in our reviews of the University and our specific programs including the LLB program. The University should not underestimate the ability that bad news has to travel.
We look forward to your prompt response and hope that Sussex University takes appropriate action before we have to look for more effective opportunities to make ourselves heard.