The changes are in line with the developing trend in Scottish higher education which has seen SNP Education Secretary, Mike Russell, scrapping the cap on fees Scottish Universities could charge students from elsewhere in the United Kingdom. RCS joins St.Andrews and Edinburgh in charging £9000 a year making the £36000 fee for a four year degree the highest anywhere in the country. Aberdeen set its maximum fees at £27000 and Glasgow Caledonian has set a lower fee of £7000 a year with a cap of £21000.
The National Union of Students Scotland, in a statement issued, described the decision to raise fees as “clearly bad for students.” Concerns were also expressed about the level of financial support the would be made available:
The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland must now come forward with a robust bursary package to ensure that the UK’s most promising musicians, dancers and actors can attend regardless of the size of their bank accounts.”
The RCS defended the decision to raise the fee level saying that:
The level of fee is exactly the same as charged by comparator conservatoires in England offering four year undergraduate degree courses in music and three year undergraduate degree courses in drama and dance.
With a spokesperson for the RSC claiming that the cost to the Conservatoire of training a student was “£14000 per annum”.
Additionally, the RSC announced that it will be introducing a means-tested scholarship program beginning in the academic year 2012/13. The RSC has described this as an attempt to “partly offset the introduction of increased tuition fees” and described the proposed scheme as “the most generous in the UK conservatoire sector”
Disappointment and anger at these proposals isn’t limited to the NUS, the RCS’s student-run Anti Cuts Action Network spoke to the Guardian of its anger at the proposals, saying:
The announcement of £9000 fees, introduced regardless of real financial costs and without consultation with the student body, undermines the Conservatoire’s role as a provider of a diverse and free arts education in Scotland.
This view was echoed by Chris,who did not wish to give his last name,a Strings student at the RSC who explained his fears about the fee rise
The announcement that the RCS are introducing sky-high fees will reduce diversity and access in Scotland’s only conservatoire, but will also damage the quality and talent in the arts in Scotland as a whole.
Glasgow has yet to announce fees for students from the rest of the UK but is expected to follow Edinburgh, RSC and St. Andrews in setting fees of £9000 a year. A statement issued by the GUSRC described its opposition to the policy as “only serving to narrow access to higher education” and asked the University’s management to “consider the socio-economic impact that setting fees at a maximum level would have on the University of Glasgow”
Glasgow University is to announce its plans within the next week, with Court confirming these proposals at a meeting scheduled for October 12th.