The number of students aspiring to go to university would drop “dramatically” if annual tuition fees were to rise to £7,000, according to a survey.
Of 2,700 young people who took part in an Ipsos MORI poll, more than two-thirds said they would still be likely to go on to higher education if fees were increased to £5,000.
But only 45 per cent would be likely to continue to university if fees were raised to £7,000, and just 26 per cent with a hike up to £10,000, according to the poll for the Sutton Trust education charity.
With fees at current levels, more students than ever before – 80 per cent – said they were either “very” or “fairly” likely to go to university, up from 73 per cent in 2008.
But there was also a significant increase in the number of pupils claiming that they were not clever enough (38 per cent), would not get good enough exam results (31 per cent), did not know enough about it (25 per cent), or would not go to university because their parents did not go (21 per cent), according to the poll of students in England and Wales aged 11 to 16.
Only 18 per cent thought that it mattered in the world of work which institution their degree was from.
However, six in 10 said it would be worth paying a higher tuition fee if a degree increased their chances of getting a well-paid job.
Worryingly, nearly a quarter of pupils in years 10 and 11 (23 per cent) said they knew nothing at all about how to get help with the costs of higher education.
Seven in 10 of those with two working parents would be likely to enter higher education if fees were £5,000 a year, compared with 55 per cent of those from homes with no working parents.
Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, said the findings were a warning that significantly higher fees may affect university participation.
“If Lord Browne’s review concludes that higher fees are necessary, there is a significant task ahead in ensuring that all young people – and particularly those from non-privileged homes – are equipped with the information they need to make well-informed decisions,” he said.