Non-shock poll reveals teenagers put off by £9,000-a-year tuition fees

A poll has revealed almost half of teenagers are put off by the coalition's £9,000-a-year tuition fees - despite the previous reassurances from government.

When the government allowed the trebling of university tuition fees, critics were told it would not put students off going, however new polling shows that 49 per cent of teens are less likely to go to university as a result of £9000 a year fees.

Polling done by City and Guilds, who questioned 1,035 14- to 19-year-olds, was reported in last night’s Standard; it revealed:

“…49 per cent will be less likely to apply for degree courses because of the Government’s plans to raise tuition fees to a maximum of £9,000 from next year.”

It goes on to say:

“Nearly a third of those questioned – 29 per cent – are looking at training such as vocational qualifications (VQ) or apprenticeships, instead of a degree.

“One in four – 24 per cent – apparently plan to go straight into a job, with 16 per cent looking for an internship or work experience and 16 per cent considering a gap year.”

Both the architect of the plan, Lord Browne, and schools secretary Michael Gove have said the increase would not deter poorer students from higher education; universities minister David Willetts, on the other hand, warned universities charging £9,000 a year they they might find students deserting their courses – but of course he expected such universities to be the exception.

As Left Foot Forward has previously reported, the idea that £9k fees would be the exception was a pipe-dream, not just because of the incompetency of the government’s approach to the reforms, but also the laws of the market.

Higher education free marketeers may argue that if fewer students decide to apply to university, institutions will drop their prices in response. However, there is already evidence that market mechanisms are not working as intended in higher education. Universities may be competing on price, or, more accurately, who can charge the most.

The Vice Chancellor of De Montford University, Professor Dominic Shellard, told his student newspaper The Demon that DMU will charge £9,000 next year because:

“…whether we like it or not there’s a correlation between what you charge and people’s perception of quality. We’re quite ambitious as an institution, we want to go well beyond this notion that we’re a post-92 institution. It was a reflection of our ambition.”

If we aren’t careful, we may end up with a higher education sector where universities charge ever increasing fees, so that attendees can say they graduated from a university with the highest fees, and we are faced with a declining proportion of students from lower income backgrounds as a result.

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