A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times delivered a damning public verdict on the government’s new funding system for higher education, which will see maximum fees of £9,000 introduced from 2012.
One of the poll questions explained the loans system, which sees graduates start repayments once they earn over £21,000, asking: “Regardless of whether or not you support the cost of university degrees being paid through tuition fees, do you think a university education is or is not worth £9,000 a year?”
Just 29 per cent of respondents said it was worth the money, 56 per cent said it was not, and 15 per cent were not sure.
A slightly higher proportion of women were opposed to £9,000 fees than men, with 58 per cent of women saying a university education was not worth the money compared with 54 per cent of men.
And 42 per cent of all respondents said graduates “will end up worse off in the long term, as their increased earnings will be outweighed by the cost of going to university”, against 40 per cent who said graduates would be better off and 18 per cent who were not sure.
Asked whether they would “support or oppose more universities offering two-year degree courses, squeezing the course into a shorter length of time in order to reduce the total cost of a degree”, 59 per cent were in favour, 26 per cent were against and 15 per cent said “don’t know”.
YouGov said the poll was conducted among “British adults” on 18-19 August, with a sample size of 2,464.
The poll also asked the public about their perception of the social profile of students at leading universities.
Seventeen per cent said “top universities are almost only attended by people who went to private school”, 54 per cent said “top universities are mostly attended by people who went to private schools”, and 16 per cent said “private and state schooled people are equally represented in top universities”.