An Independent Commission has been established to monitor the impact of increased university fees in England over the next three years, it was announced today.

The four person panel, chaired by Will Hutton, will produce a series of reports assessing the impact of the increase in fees on application and admissions trends in universities, considering in particular the effect on young people from low and middle income backgrounds. This year will be the first year that English higher education institutions are able to charge students up to 9000 pounds a year for tuition fees, repaid through graduate contributions after university.

Chair of the Commission, Will Hutton, said: “It is incredibly important that we provide an independent check on the biggest reforms for Higher Education in a generation, particularly looking at what impact higher fees have on prospective students from less privileged backgrounds. We will be keeping an open mind; the aim will be to produce a dispassionate and authoritative analysis of the data as it emerges. We are extremely grateful to the UCAS for their cooperation in helping with the Commission’s work.”

The four members of the panel at present are: Will Hutton, Principal of Hertford College, Oxford University, and executive vice-chair of the Work Foundation; Stephen Machin, Professor of Economics at University College London and Research Director of the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics; Libby Purves, writer, radio broadcaster and Times chief theatre critic; and Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust and the Education Endowment Foundation.

The Commission will produce three reports a year, considering a number of key issues, including the admissions of non-privileged students to highly selective universities, and particular subjects. The secretariat and analytical support will be provided by the Sutton Trust.

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