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Christian Thielemann

Access and Tuition Fees for UK / EU undergraduates

  • The Royal Academy of Music has received approval from the Office of Fair Access (OFFA) to charge £9000 per annum for its BMus Programme.
  • This Access Agreement allows the Academy to put into effect its ambition to increase significantly its overall financial support for students, and to offset the fee rise for those who can least afford it.
  • The Academy is also committed to investing greater resource in its successful and established programme of outreach work.
  • The Academy will also continue to offer its extensive range of merit scholarships to applicants in all disciplines and programmes. These are awarded following auditions. Please read our Scholarships & Bursaries page for more information.

How much?

The Academy charges an annual tuition fee of £9000 for BMus students from the UK and EU who begin their studies in or after September 2012. A certain amount of the income from the fee (known as Additional Fee Income) is invested into providing financial help for students from lower-income households, increased levels of outreach work, and participation in the National Scholarship Programme. More information is available in the Academy’s Access Agreement.

Q: Do students who began their studies at the Academy before September 2012 pay £9000?
A: No, this fee is for new students enrolling here for the first time in or after the 2012-13 academic year.

Q: Why £9000?
A: The challenge for the Academy, along with most Higher Education institutions, is that Government ‘direct funding’ (or core grant) has been cut, creating a major shortfall in our finances. The Academy applied to charge the higher fee because much of our teaching is carried out on a one-to-one basis (e.g. individual principal-study lessons), making music education one of the most expensive subjects to deliver. 

How will the Academy be spending this additional fee income?

Part of this money will be used to make up the shortfall in the government’s core grant. The remaining money gives the Academy the opportunity to increase its commitment to help talented UK and EU BMus students from low-income households to study here.

1. For students whose household income is £25,000 or below, the Academy will automatically provide a bursary in the form of a £3000 fee waiver for each year of study.

2. For students whose household income is between £25,001 and £33,500, the Academy will automatically provide a bursary in the form of a £2000 fee waiver for each year of study.

3. There will be no automatic bursaries for students whose household is income is more than £33,500. 

Does the Academy still offer merit scholarships?

We continue to offer UK and EU BMus students merit-based scholarships for anyone who plays particularly well at audition and displays great potential.  These awards are made irrespective of household income. Therefore, some students may receive a scholarship and a fee waiver. For example, a scholarship student from a household with verified annual income below £33,501 would be eligible to receive a combined award of the merit scholarship plus a fee waiver.

What is the National Scholarship Programme (NSP)?

The Academy will be awarding five NSP scholarships for 2014–15, awarded to eligible students from families with household income of less than £25,000, and the Academy’s match funding will provide additional fee waiver support for the same five students. These five students would in their first year of study receive a £3000 fee waiver from the NSP, a £3000 matching fee waiver bursary from the Academy, and may also be eligible to receive up to £3000 in merit-based scholarships. It is possible, therefore, that a top scholar from the lowest income household could in their first year have their entire fees covered by a combination of a National Scholarship, merit-based scholarship and a fee waiver bursary. 

How will the Academy determine my household income?

Household income is determined from information provided by the Student Loans Company [see the Gov.uk website]. No other formal financial means-testing will be accepted. 

How will fee waivers and scholarships be paid?

Q: How do fee waivers work for UK and EU BMus students who are on the £9000 fee regime?
A: If you are entitled to a fee waiver, we will simply charge you an amount equal to the full fee minus the amount of the waiver. However, your entitlement to a fee waiver must be proven via the Gov.uk website, where you will need to supply your household income details. If you take a tuition fee loan, the Academy will adjust the loan amount within the Student Finance system if your verified household income makes you eligible for a fee waiver. You should apply for the full tuition fee loan amount.

Q: How will scholarships be paid?
A: These will normally be paid direct to the student's UK bank account via the Student Loan interface. 

How much can I borrow and how can I pay all this money back?

Irrespective of what you borrow, you will pay back the same amount each month after graduating: but it will take longer the more you borrow. The repayments for graduates in the UK will be 9% of earnings above £21,000, which is the lowest set earnings threshold. Interest will also be charged on the amount you borrow. Repayments stop after either (i) you have repaid the amount in full, or (ii) thirty years from when you start repaying, whichever comes soonest. All students, irrespective of household income, can borrow the cost of their tuition fees if they so wish. See the table below for a repayment guide according to future earnings.

Additionally, students can take out loans for living costs. The size of these loans will vary according household income and may include a non-repayable living cost grant. Details of examples of borrowing capability will shortly be available here.

Q: Do I have to borrow the full cost of the fees?
A: No, you only need to borrow what you require, and only if you want to. It is up to you whether you want to pay in full upfront or spread the load over a period of time.

Q: How much interest will I have to pay on top of my loans?
A: During your studies, your loan will accrue interest at the Retail Price Index (RPI) rate of inflation plus 3%.
After your studies, the interest rate will depend on your annual income:

  • Below £21,000 — The accrued Retail Price Index (RPI) rate of inflation.
  • £21,001 to £41,000 — The accrued Retail Price Index (RPI) rate of inflation
    plus 0.15% for every extra £1000 earned (up to 3%).
  • Over £41,000 — The accrued Retail Price Index (RPI) rate of inflation plus 3%.

Q: If I borrow money for fees and/or living expenses, can I pay the money back more quickly later on if my circumstances change and thereby avoid paying so much interest?
A: This is still being debated. Some commentators think that redemption costs will be incurred (i.e. a penalty for early repayment), rather like can happen if you repay a loan back sooner than planned, although the Government’s White Paper ‘Students at the Heart of the System’ suggests otherwise.

Q: So, this is really a form of taxation not a loan?
A: In many respects, yes. This is a graduate tax except it has a finite period. It also resembles a tax insofar as you will make repayments through the income tax system based on earnings. However, the main benefit is that if your earnings remain low throughout the repayment period, you stand to pay back very little and, in a minority of cases, nothing at all.

Q: Are you saying that after 30 years, if the debt hasn’t been paid back, then I will make no more payments?
A: Yes – and it’s likely that many students will find themselves in that happy position.

Q: How does all this affect me if I am from the EU?
A: You will be entitled to a tuition fee loan, but not a loan for living expenses. If you do not expect to pay UK tax after graduating, you will have to fill in an income assessment form, details of which are available on the
Student Loan Company website. Repayment thresholds for different countries are given on https://www.gov.uk/student-finance/repayments.

Q: Where can I find more information about the Gov.uk website?
A: https://www.gov.uk/student-finance

Q: Are there other useful websites I could look at to help me understand this?
A: There are several. We recommend the
www.moneysavingexpert.com as it gives very concise information on a range of financial issues. Additionally, the economist Martin Lewis (of moneysavingexpert.com) can be seen on YouTube talking about student borrowing. 

Fee Table

All UK and EU BMus students, irrespective of household income, can borrow the cost of their tuition fees if they so wish, if they have not already used up their student support allowance. This repayment guide based on future earnings is a broad indicator only. Figures are bound to vary in the future.

The table has been modelled on www.moneysavingexpert.com and is based on a four-year undergraduate programme (N.B. the Academy’s undergraduate programme lasts four years). It assumes borrowing of £9000 annually for fees and £5500 in living costs. It also assumes 3% inflation and graduate earnings growing at inflation +2%.

The table also includes ‘discounting’: i.e. it is presented in real terms, based on today’s prices. Discounting takes account of the fact that £1 today will not be worth the same as £1 in 30 years’ time. A discount factor equal to the inflation rate of 3% has been used to represent this erosion in the value of money over time.

Students who receive fee waivers or other financial support will be able to reduce the value of their loan accordingly. This reduction in loan value will not affect repayment amounts in the early years since repayments are salary-determined. However, the reduced loan would cost less to repay in total and would be paid off sooner than would have been the case, had a fee waiver or bursary not been granted.

Starting Salary
(Sep 2016)

Predicted Salary
in 30 years’ time
at today’s prices

Total amount
repaid over 30 years
at today’s prices

Repay in full?

Monthly repayment in year one

















































Yes – 28 years





Yes – 25 years





Yes – 21 years