Two in three pupils fear university costs

03 June 2013

Two-thirds of children are worried about the cost of going to university even though they think it will help them ‘get on in life’, a new survey has revealed.

They are concerned about living expenses and not being able to earn while they study while those from middle-class backgrounds are most troubled by £9,000-a-year tuition fees.

The Ipsos MORI poll for the Sutton Trust surveyed 2,595 11 to 16-year-olds. It classified them as being in families of high, medium or low affluence based on questions about their households.

It found that students from the least affluent families (23 per cent) were more likely to cite cost as the biggest consideration when deciding whether to go onto higher education than their richer counterparts (14 per cent).

However, middle-class youngsters - who miss out on means tested maintenance grants - are most affected by tuition fees (30 per cent) when worrying about all the costs.

This compared to 28 per cent of rich students and 26 per cent of poorer ones who agreed that fees were the ‘biggest concern’.

Overall, 65 per cent of students surveyed were worried about university finances - 28 per cent cited tuition fees; 19 per cent, the cost of living and 18 per cent, not earning while studying.

Only seven per cent said they were not troubled by the cost of going to university.

Thirty eight per cent of young people said they were ‘very likely’ to go to university and 43 per cent ‘fairly likely’.

A higher proportion of black and minority ethnic students (49 per cent) said they were likely to go to university than white students (35 per cent).

Of those who were unlikely to go into higher education, 57 per cent cited financial considerations and 49 per cent said they would prefer to do something more practical.

However 86 per cent said going to university was important in ‘helping people do well and get on in life’, with 43 per cent rating it ‘very important’.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust and the Education Endowment Foundation, said: ‘It is clear from this poll that many young people remain worried about the cost of higher education.

‘Graduates face debts of over £40,000 with the higher fees and many will be paying for their university studies into their fifties. We are urging the Government to means test university fees, as used to be the case, so that those from low and middle income families pay less for tuition.’

Means-testing ended in 2006 when variable fees of up to £3,000-a-year were introduced. Those with household incomes below £42,611 can currently apply for means-tested maintenance grants.

Michael MacNeil, head of higher education at the University and College Union (UCU), said: ‘We need our brightest young people aspiring to university and the courses best suited to their talents. Worryingly the biggest barrier is the increased cost of a degree.

‘Ministers need to move on from looking at how to squeeze more money out of students and look at the damage the increased cost of going to university is already having.’

Source: Daily Mail

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