Fee rise prompts four out of five pupils to reconsider university plans

Most pupils planning to attend university from 2012 onwards are reconsidering their options due to the increase in tuition fees, according to a new poll.

August 27, 2011

The National Foundation for Educational Research found that 15 per cent of year 10 to 12 pupils who planned to study at university would not now go owing to fee rises.

Nineteen per cent of pupils said they would only apply only to those universities where the annual fees are less than the maximum of £9,000 per year and 17 per cent were considering alternatives to university, such as studying at further education colleges or foreign universities.

Just over a quarter of pupils questioned said they would only apply for local universities so they could live at home.

The National Foundation for Educational Research reported that only 21 per cent of the pupils spoken to said their plans to attend university would not change.

Average tuition fees are set to rise to £8,393 from September 2012, although poorer students will be eligible for fee waivers and bursaries at most institutions.

The results are drawn from a survey of 1,139 secondary school pupils in England aged 14 to 17 in June 2011, of which 433 pupils said they planned to go to university.

Analysis also shows that 43 per cent of pupils from richer backgrounds would not change their plans - double the rate of the overall rate of 21 per cent.

Maria Charles, project director for the foundation’s omnibus surveys, said: “Until the applications come in for university studies from September 2012 it will be hard to know the real impact of the increase in fees on young people’s choices.

“However, it seems likely that fewer young people will apply for university and that the pattern of applications will change. It remains to be seen what the longer term implications will be.”

The government has urged young people not to be put off university by the changes to the fee regime, arguing that the new system – under which repayments will not kick in until they are earning over £21,000 a year – will offer many a better deal than at present.

jack.grove@tsleducation.com

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