Concerns raised over planned tuition fees at Norwich’s University of East Anglia

University of East Anglia vice-chancellor Prof Edward Acton this week revealed that it would join the growing band of universities wanting to charge maximum tuition fees from September next year.

But many parents in Norwich fear it will bar their children from going to university.

Married mum-of-two Kerry Davis, 42, who lives in Abinger Way, Eaton, said: 'As a parent of two teenage children the option of us being able to send them both to university looks very remote as we could not afford to pay the �9,000 tuition fees.

'The government has talked about help for low income families, but nothing for the majority of hard working families earning an average wage but receiving no help or benefits, who just seem to pay more in tax and are financially worse off than they were 10 years ago.'

Taverham High School pupil Emma Crook, 17, who plans to study chemical engineering at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, this year, said the fees will have a big impact on university-goers.

The teenager, who lives in Costessey Drive, Drayton, said: 'It has prevented a lot of students taking a gap year this year and there's been a huge influx of people going to university this year which has made it harder to get in.

'I'm going to a Scottish university and paying �1,800 a year, but that's still going to be expensive for my family to support me.

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'How any ordinary family is going to cope with �9,000 a year, I don't know.'

Prof Acton promised that a package of measures would see almost one-third of new undergraduates benefiting from 'some form of financial support'.

He also pledged that charging �9,000 a year for all courses would enable UEA to continue to provide a 'first-rate' education. Tom Dolton, communications officer, for the Student Union at the UEA, said they were 'disappointed' with the proposed �9,000 a year fees. He said: 'Whilst we reiterate our stance on free education, we are confident that the targets and processes the university has put in place will ensure the continuing improvement of the student experience of UEA students.

'We plan to continue working with the university to ensure that there will be continual commitment to working to improve widening participation of students applying to the university.'

UEA's fees proposals have been submitted to the Office for Fair Access (Offa) for approval. The organisation can veto any proposed fees over �6,000 a year if universities are not doing enough to widen higher education participation.

Prof Acton said the move was 'necessary' to enable the UEA to improve its position in the top 20 of Britain's higher education institutions and to protect and enhance its student experience and quality of education.

Prof Acton said: 'There has been some very acute soul-searching in terms of the risk that we will frighten off families who will believe headlines that are a little bit misleading about what it means.

'Looking at our fees, it feels very difficult to come in at the average.

'The arguments look terribly strong. You've got to go to �9,000 if you have ambition.'

Earlier this month, University Campus Suffolk said it intended to charge fees of �7,500-8,000. Norwich University College of the Arts (Nuca) said it would not be making an announcement until early May.

What do you think about the proposed tuition fees? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE or email