What do pupils in their early teens know about universities and higher education? Quite a lot, according to new research by the University of Southampton's centre for research in education marketing.
This week it released the results of a survey of the attitudes to post-school education of 260 Year 10 pupils in Hampshire schools. It shows that almost three-fifths wanted to stay on in higher education, with just 12 per cent deciding against. According to Nick Foskett, survey director, this high percentage reflects a major cultural shift towards mass consumption of higher education.
The main reason given for intending to go to university is to maximise the chances of getting a well-paid job, rather than any overwhelming desire to study for its own sake. Despite the growth in vocational courses and GVNQs, pupils still regard A levels as the main route to higher education.
On a broader level, pupils see university as very hard work, and anticipate having little time for socialising. Many look forward to the independence they will gain in living away from home, but are also aware of the large financial costs and that they may need to borrow money to fund their education. The survey also found that the division between the "new" universities and the old is not understood. Most regard the word "new" as meaning "better".
Another survey in two years' time will assess changing attitudes.