A university today announced it was set to become the first in Britain outside of the elite institutions to charge students the maximum tuition fees of £9,000 a year.
Exeter University joins Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College London as an small group of universities which plan to impose the maximum fees.
MPs voted in 2010 to raise tuition fees to £6,000 from 2012, with institutions allowed to charge £9,000 in ”exceptional circumstances”.
Universities planning to charge more than £6,000 have to submit their proposals to the Office For Fair Access, detailing how they plan to ensure poorer students do not miss out.
Exeter is the first outside the Russell Group, which represents elite universities including Oxford and Cambridge, to reveal it wants to charge the maximum fee allowed for all courses.
The university said it was developing a new package of fee waivers and bursaries to encourage more applications from less well off students.
David Allen, registrar and deputy chief executive, said the university would allow ”fair access” and improve the student experience.
He said: ”This will better enable us to direct resources at widening participation, fair access and improving the student experience.
”It is important that students can come and study at Exeter whatever their family background.”
Exeter University Students’ Guild said it supported the fee as long as students ”get the education they deserve for such a large fee”.
Bertie Archer, of the students’ guild, said: ”There’s not much surprise at the actual figure. It’s been expected that the top institutions would go to £9,000.
”The fees have got to be worth it, so the guild has been working hard to ensure that the university makes sure they get the education they deserve for such a large fee.”
The guild is pressing for smaller class sizes and more contact with lecturers and has been invited to join the university’s budget scrutiny group to prioritise day-to-day spending for the students.