Student money problems affect performance

June 2, 1995

Many students believe that financial problems are having an adverse effect on their academic performance, a survey of University of Central England undergraduates has shown.

The survey, carried out by UCE's Centre for Research into Quality (CRQ), found that 51.9 per cent of the 1,139 full-time undergraduates polled believed their academic performance was suffering and 15.1 per cent believed that there was a major negative impact.

Lee Harvey, senior research fellow at CRQ and co-author, with Selena Mason, of the report, believes that UCE students are reasonably representative.

The survey had been constructed so as to minimise overstatement of financial and academic difficulties.

Just over 20 per cent said that their financial status had a positive impact on their academic performance. Students who also had part-time jobs were more likely to think that financial problems were affecting their academic work, with proportions rising to more than 60 per cent for those working 11 or more hours per week, against 49 per cent for those with no part-time job.

The report found an overwhelming lack of confidence in the current higher education funding system, with 92.2 per cent calling for reform against only 2.7 per cent wanting to leave things as they are.

Asked about alternative sources of funding, students drew a clear distinction between tuition and maintenance. Seventy-one per cent believe that Government should continue to contribute 100 per cent of tuition costs, but 44 per cent were prepared to accept either a student or a graduate contribution to maintenance.

Professor Harvey said: "But in many cases they were prepared to say that this should be 50 per cent or more of the maintenance cost." The report argues that it is the current student loan system of maintenance rather than the idea of student contributions in themselves that makes students unhappy.

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