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Higher Education Act 2004

Part 3 – Student Fees and Fair Access

16.Student fees – Previously, under section 26 of the Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998, the fee which higher education institutions (HEIs) charge for full-time undergraduate students in a given year was determined by the maximum fee remission grant for that year, as prescribed under section 22 of that Act. This Act enables HEIs to set their own fees, up to a basic amount specified in regulations, which is no longer linked to a grant for fees. Institutions that wish to charge fees above this rate will only be able to do so if they have in force a plan under this Part of the Act, approved by the relevant authority. For England, the relevant authority will be the new Director of Fair Access to Higher Education. For Wales, it will be a body to be designated by the National Assembly for Wales. If institutions have such a plan, they may charge up to a higher amount (within the bounds of their plan), also specified in regulations. It is intended that loans will be made available, on an income-contingent basis and with no real rate of interest, to allow students to defer payment of fees.

17.Director of Fair Access to Higher Education – This Part of the Act creates a new office-holder, the Director of Fair Access to Higher Education. His or her office will informally be known as the Office for Fair Access (OFFA). The Director’s role will be approving and monitoring plans made by institutions in England that wish to set fees higher than the basic amount. The matters to be covered by these plans – which will remain in force for up to five years – will be specified in regulations. Should an institution breach its plan, the Director may choose not to renew that plan or, where there is need for more immediate action, may direct the Higher Education Funding Council for England or the Teacher Training Agency to impose financial requirements, including reducing its grant to that institution.

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