Old universities retain allure

March 14, 1997

THREE QUARTERS of young university applicants would prefer to attend a traditional institution and most want to study away from home, according to recent research.

A survey by the university marketing service Heist of 1,500 school and college students found only 25 per cent would put a college or new university top of their list. Most believed employers were more concerned about where they studied than the subject or class of degree.

While figures released by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service last year showed more students were studying in their home area, Heist suggests the reason is financial rather than personal. Just 8 per cent of those questioned said they would prefer to study within 20 miles of home.

Most students still underestimate possible debt after three years of study and overestimate the likelihood of dropping out. Just 6 per cent correctly guessed average student debt to be Pounds 4,000 with most putting it at about Pounds 2,000.

They also believed they had a 30 per cent chance of dropping-out, about twice the true figure.

David Roberts, Heist chief executive and report co-author, said the findings had implications for top-up fees. "If applicants are seriously underestimating the value of these debts, this could lead them to make ill-informed decisions about where and what to study," he said.

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