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UK drama schools to raise fees above £9,000

A student at Guildhall School of Music and Drama – one of the schools seeking to raise its fees. Photo: GSMD A student at Guildhall School of Music and Drama – one of the schools seeking to raise its fees. Photo: GSMD
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Some of the UK’s leading drama schools are set to increase their fees by £250 a year, after the government announced plans to raise the maximum that universities can charge.

This will be the first time tuition fees have increased since 2012, when the cap for undergraduate fees rose from £3,290 to £9,000 per year.

Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Rose Bruford College have confirmed to The Stage their intention to raise their fees to the new maximum £9,250 from August 2017.

Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and East 15 Acting School have also said they are seeking to raise fees to the new maximum, while four schools – RADA, LAMDA, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and Royal Central School of Speech and Drama – could not confirm whether their fees would remain the same for incoming students in 2017.

Speaking to The Stage, East 15 and Central stressed that fees would not be increased for existing students, but it is unclear whether this will be the case at other drama schools.

A LIPA spokeswoman said the increase would be crucial to enable the school to continue to offer “a high quality student experience across practical degree programmes”, adding that the courses are resource intensive in nature.

The government claimed the new maximum was being implemented so universities could keep fees “in line with [forecast] inflation” – but denied the tuition fee cap had increased.

A Department for Education spokeswoman told The Stage: “The tuition fee cap has not increased. What has happened is the government has said that universities that meet a quality bar will be able to maintain their fees in line with inflation.”

The new maximum fee will only affect schools funded by the Higher Education 
Funding Council of England, and does not apply to private drama schools such as Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts and Arts Educational Schools.

It comes six months after the government announced plans to scrap cost of living grants for students, a move drama school heads warned would “darken the future of the arts”.

Most schools intending to increase fees are waiting on approval of their accessibility agreement by the Office for Fair Access – and any university wanting to charge the top fee has to have a good rating by the Teaching Excellence Framework.

Plans for the maximum fee increase are still subject to parliamentary scrutiny, and will be debated in the autumn, after the government’s summer recess.

Tom Hiddleston is among a number of high-profile figures who have spoken out against the high price of drama training. The actor claimed fees at schools – including at his own alma mater, RADA – were too high and risked alienating the underprivileged.

Andrew Lloyd Webber previously raised concerns in the House of Lords that “enormously” expensive fees meant talented students were “slipping through the gap”, while actor Mark Strong said that “people who have more money are able to follow their dream more easily than people who don’t”.

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