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by Tom Bradley University tuition fees From the end of the second world war until the mid 1990’s, the Local Education Authority (LEA) paid tuition fees for undergraduate students as well as providing a yearly grant for living expenses based on family income. There were also low-interest loans available from the government, payable upon leaving. From 1998, however, the grant was abolished and students had to pay £1000 per year towards their tuition. This figure was increased to a maximum of £3000 in 2004 and then again to £9000 per annum from 2012 in England. Additional loans were made available for the exclusive purpose of paying tuition fees. In August 2012, it was announced that this price rise had led to an 8% drop in English university applicants (around 15,000 potential students). This trend was not mirrored in other parts of the UK where the cost was not raised. Links: The return of O-Levels? In 1986, the GCSE examination replaced the previous two-tier system of O-Levels and CSEs for 16-year-olds. The percentage of students gaining A-C grades has risen every year since its introduction (only falling for the first time in 2012), leading to accusations of dumbing down. In September 2012, the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) was announced as a GCSE replacement for English, Maths and science. To be introduced from 2015, it would drop the modular element, as well as coursework in English and Maths, and instead reinstate the single test at the end of the two-year course. Gove hailed this as a return to a more traditional type of teaching and examining. However, in response to pressure from teachers, MPs, exam boards, arts organisations and even the EU, Gove was forced to drop these plans in February 2013. The GCSE exam will be retained but in a modified form with less of a modular format and less emphasis on coursework. Links:

Trends in UK education

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