Universities in England will now be able to increase tuition fees every year until 2020, regardless of teaching quality.
Yesterday, Parliament rushed through the Higher Education and Research Bill, which will see fees increase to £9,250 in September.
Under the legislation, tuition fees were initially supposed to increase based on improved teaching standards.
However, this has been delayed while a review of the controversial Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) takes place.
In the meantime, universities will be able to implement annual fee hikes based on inflation until the TEF is introduced in 2020.
The news comes just weeks after it was announced that millions of graduates will be forced to pay more interest on their student loans thanks to Brexit, with rates soaring up to 6.1%.
Students and graduates took to Twitter to vent their frustrations over the fee increases:
Writing in a blog on the Huffington Post UK yesterday before the bill was passed, University and College Union (UCU) general secretary Sally Hunt said the legislation failed to “command the confidence of students and staff”.
Addressing the review into TEF before it’s linked to tuition fees, Hunt wrote: “Alas, I suspect that this will simply become a box-ticking exercise on the way to achieving the high-stakes fee regime which the government desires.”
However, Universities UK president Dame Julia Goodfellow was more positive about the passing of the bill, saying it offers “stability at a time of great uncertainty”.
“We agreed there was a need for new legislation, but we had concerns about the original draft bill,” she said in a statement.
“Thanks to MPs and peers, and the willingness of ministers and officials to engage and listen, the final bill has been significantly improved.”
The legislation received a large number of amendments in the House of Lords, with peers demanding that international students are removed from net migration figures.
According to the BBC, while this was rejected, universities anticipate that the status of overseas students could be reviewed as part of reviews on migration during Brexit negotiations.
The government also made compromises on the ability of new institutions to provide degrees and gain university status in order to push through the bill before this Parliament ends.
Under the legislation originally proposed, the newly-created Office for Students would have had the authority to grant institutions these powers when they first opened, rather than waiting four years, as is the current system.
This led to fears among many working in the sector that the bill could lead to the privatisation of higher education and the growth of unscrupulous “for-profit” colleges.
However, amendments to the bill mean that the Office for Students will now have to “request advice” before granting degree-awarding abilities.