Birmingham City University opts for ‘clear’ variable fees that minimise debt


Birmingham City University has unveiled its plans to charge variable tuition fees from September 2012 with courses costing £7,500, £8,200 and £9,000 - designed to reflect the cost of delivery and keep debt to graduates to a minimum.

Vice-Chancellor Professor David Tidmarsh said that the University, which had the highest rise in UCAS applications of all Midlands’ universities between 2008 and 2010, had spent a considerable amount of time in making its fee decision, analysing the teaching and support costs of delivering individual courses and the specialist facilities required – recognising that these inevitably vary in different subjects.

Price bands

The University has opted for three separate price bands for full-time degrees of: £7,500, £8,200 and £9,000, the last for its internationally renowned, most expensive to run specialist courses in Jewellery, Music and Acting at Birmingham School of Jewellery, Birmingham Conservatoire and Birmingham School of Acting respectively. All HNDs and Foundation degrees will be priced at £6,000.

“Rather than hide the cost of our courses to students by opting for the highest fee across the board and then reducing this through complicated bursaries, we have a transparent fee structure where the headline course cost is the actual cost,” said Professor Tidmarsh.

“Our fees reflect the teaching and support costs of delivering top class individual subjects, including specialist facilities – many, like our virtual and simulation technology suites, among the best in the UK - as well as the broader university services required, including student welfare, additional academic support, ICT, library and learning resources. We not only need to maintain, but also invest in and enhance the student experience and the University’s estate, including a flagship, state-of-the-art City Centre campus.

“We feel our pricing structure is as fair as it can be in a situation where from 2012 most of our courses will receive no Government funding and we are therefore forced to increase the tuition fees.

“We specialise in preparing students for professional careers both upon graduation and throughout life and have excellent links with business, including household names such as Apple, Cartier, the BBC, Rolls-Royce and CISCO. Our fees represent excellent value when you consider that Birmingham City University is ranked in the top 20 in the UK (of 121 universities) by the Sunday Times for placing students into graduate-level employment and recently won the Times Higher magazine award for ‘Outstanding Support for Students’.”

Investing in the future

Professor Tidmarsh said that he recognised that prospective students and their families would understandably be concerned at the costs now being passed directly on to them, but no full-time student needed to pay for their university education up front.

The University will also be offering National Scholarships to over 370 students from the lowest income backgrounds (typically, £16,190 or lower) who demonstrate excellence in academic achievement, performance or potential. These will be worth £3,000 each and will be awarded as a fee waiver (so that your overall debt will be reduced). Further details will be available later in the year.

“Higher education is an investment in the future in every sense – students develop personally and professionally with a distinct advantage in the job market both at the start of and throughout their careers,” he said.

“It’s important to remember that full-time students don’t have to pay for tuition fees or living costs either before or during their studies - these can be paid by Government tuition and maintenance loans.

“Graduates only start repaying the loan when they are earning over £21,000 and don’t have to pay if at any time their salary falls below this level. Graduates pay a 9% proportion of any salary over £21,000 regardless of the size of their debt – someone earning £25,000 a year would pay £6.92 a week or £30 a month – and any remaining debt is written off after 30 years.”

Tom Thompson, President of Birmingham City Students’ Union, said: “Students at Birmingham City have consistently stood against any increase in fees and have and will continue to fight alongside the rest of the country against the cuts, which will adversely affect the Higher Education sector.

“We recognise that this University has been forced to raise its tuition fees as a result of the cuts in Government funding. We support the University’s difficult decision for a variable fee structure which reflects the actual costs of the course and is designed to minimise student debt, while allowing excellent student support, maximum opportunity for future employment and continued investment in industry standard facilities – all essential to the continuing success of the University. The Students’ Union will continue to work closely with the University to provide the best possible experience and representation for our students.”

Prospective students wishing to learn more will have the opportunity to hear the Vice-Chancellor speak at the next Open Day on Saturday June 18. For more information visit

Notes to Editors

  • With around 23,500 students from 80 different countries, Birmingham City University is one of the largest universities in the UK. We provide practical solutions for business through research and consultancy for the likes of Apple, Microsoft, CISCO, Rolls-Royce, Morgan Motor Company, Cartier, Mitchells and Butler, and Jewsons. These excellent industry links influence the teaching of our courses, giving our students the skills and experience employers want - 87% secure jobs or go on to further study (Destinations survey 2008/09). Our popularity is increasing and between 2008 and 2010, we had the highest rise in UCAS applications of all East and West Midlands’ universities.

Fees for new students 2012/13*

    The fees have been broken down into subjects (see below), however there are variances for individual courses. For more information about the new fees, visit our tuition fees FAQs.

    All HNDs and Foundation degrees.

    Full time first degrees in Business and Management; Sociology; Early Childhood Education Studies; Children and Integrated Professional Care; Computing, Information and Communication Technology; Architectural Technology; Property, Construction and Planning; English: Health and Social Care (other than those courses delivered under the NHS contract).

    Full time first degrees in Art and Design; Architecture; Law; Engineering; Digital Media Technology; Engineering Design and Manufacturing Systems; Psychology; Criminology; Criminal Investigation; Media and Communication; Community Theatre.

    Jewellery; Music; Acting; Stage Management.

    Sandwich Year Out for those starting 12/13 with a year out in 14/15.

    The fee set for entrants will apply to them for the duration of their studies. Fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, in line with the amount set by the Government.

    *The new tuition fee announcements do not include courses for initial teacher training funded by the Training and Development Agency (TDA) for Schools or provision that is funded by the NHS through the Strategic Health Authority (SHA) for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals. Decisions have yet to be taken by Government and we are waiting further clarification on future funding.

    Useful Links

    The government’s website also offers useful information about how much you can expect to pay back each year in various graduate jobs, while Martin Lewis offers key facts on fees, loans & grants.

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