Fees: ‘Alarming misunderstanding’

August 14, 2012, 4:51 PM GMT+0

Poll of potential Uni students finds 16-18s in dark on new fees, as A-level results day approaches

The majority of young people considering applying to university are in the dark when it comes to student loans, our poll for the University of Roehampton revealed today.

The poll, which asked 1,021 potential students aged 16 to 19* questions such as 'How much will new students have to pay before they start their course?', comes two days before A level results day.

  • 70% of potential students thought they would be paying back the same or more each year after they graduate than current graduates – even though they will be paying less, according to the Government. Graduates will not make a contribution towards tuition costs until they are earning at least £21,000, up from the current £15,000
  • 44% wrongly thought they would have to pay the university their tuition fees before they actually began their course – the reality is only those who have graduated and are earning more than £21,000 per year will have to pay anything at all
  • One in five (20%) young people surveyed thought tuition fee debts would appear on their credit files; in fact, no reference to student loans is made on a credit file
  • And more than two thirds (70%) of those questioned said they thought that the prospect of paying the new level of tuition fees makes going to university a less attractive option

Potential to put off thousands from applying

The University of Roehampton’s Vice Chancellor Professor Paul O’Prey said the lack of knowledge was so widespread that thousands of gifted young people could be being put from off applying to university.

"The findings are extremely worrying," he said. "This poll indicates that young people who might consider taking a degree course have an alarming misunderstanding of tuition fees, which could well put many off from applying to university. We need to work harder at getting across the message that university can be afforded by everyone, whatever their situation.

He continued, "We need to get the message across that it is likely that graduates with loans for tuition fees will be paying less year-on-year than graduates who started their university careers in previous years.

“University is a wonderfully enriching experience –it helps equip you for a successful and rewarding career and opens up all sorts of exciting opportunities and experiences,” Professor O’Prey added.

New graduates will not be financially worse of for doing a degree – and the vast majority will be better off,” he emphasised.

Still not too late

He was also keen to point out to A-level leavers who may have put off applying due to confusion over fees that “it is not too late. Many universities, including Roehampton, have clearing places available. I urge students with good qualifications who haven’t applied to talk to us today so that we can reassure them and find them a place."

Graduates earn on average £12,000 more a year than non-graduates, according to the Office of National Statistics.

See the survey details and full results here

The University of Roehampton has produced an animation helping to explain student fees. See it here.

*1,021 young people aged between 16 and 19 and living in England. Those already in higher education were excluded as were those who considered themselves unlikely to attend university in the future