Permitted real-terms fee rises
The fees you set for each year of study for entrants will apply to them for the duration of their studies. Unless your access agreement is clear that you will, or may, apply annual increases for continuing students in line with an appropriate inflationary measure set by the Government each year (within the appropriate maximum fee cap) we will assume that you intend your fees to remain at the levels stated in your access agreement.
You should consider carefully the wording in your access agreement, and other published materials, to ensure that potential applicants are clear about what fees they will be paying for the duration of their course, before they apply.
Where you may be permitted to apply annual increases, we suggest you calculate these increases by using the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast for RPI-X (the retail price index, excluding mortgage interest payments). This is the index to which the Secretary of State must have regard when increasing the variable fee caps.
For continuing students, OFFA will allow increases in fees of up to RPI-X, but you must ensure that any inflationary increase you apply:
- does not result in the fee caps being breached
- is reasonable
- is consistent with the information and advice you gave students on your website and elsewhere when they applied and accepted a place on their course
- is consistent with the terms of the contract entered into with the student
- complies with the terms used to describe any inflationary increases in your access agreement.
The Competition and Markets Authority’s advice on consumer protection law, published in March 2015, emphasises the need for HE providers to ensure clear and transparent information about fees and costs is available to prospective students before they make any decisions about which courses and HE providers to apply to. Institutions should consider this advice and must ensure that they are complying with the law.