Nearly three-quarters of prospective and current students would be willing to pay higher fees if it guaranteed them a graduate-level job upon degree completion, according to new research.
The survey, conducted by Research Academy and published annually by specialist accommodation provider University Partnership Programme (UPP) in conjunction with the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi), canvassed the opinion of over 1,100 participants – 529 university applicants and 576 current students.
It found that 73 per cent of participants were willing to pay extra. On average, they were prepared to pay at least £1,700 more for a “guaranteed ‘graduate level’ role”. Over a quarter of those surveyed said they would pay at least £2,000 more. UPP wrote in the report that this was the second year they had asked this question and the average amount extra students would be willing to pay had risen by £100.
Three-quarters of respondents said they would want the extra money to be invested more in “work placements, sandwich courses, industry links and other interventions aimed at improving the employability of students”.
The paper also found 60 per cent of students and applicants said that they chose to go to university to boost long-term earning potential.
“It is clear from this year’s findings that employability and work-readiness are becoming more and more important to both students and applicants – perhaps reflecting the way in which rising fees have impacted on young people’s understanding of value for money in higher education,” said Jon Wakeford, director of strategy at UPP.
Nick Hillman, director of Hepi, added that the research showed students were both “rational and apprehensive”.
“They recognise higher education delivers excellent outcomes on average but they also – quite rightly – want to ensure they benefit personally from a rewarding student experience and a fulfilling career afterwards,” he said.
“That is as it should be, given the time and money they are devoting to studying. Higher education is a transformative experience for most students, but it is always important to listen to students’ views about what can be better and to ensure prospective students know what to expect.”
The survey’s findings are being discussed at a series of high-level roundtables at the party conferences.