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DfE commissioned report published: Attitudes towards the student finance system


Miranda Brown reports on the attitudes of higher education applicants, students and graduates towards the student finance system for the Department for Education.
Miranda Brown, Insight Team
Miranda Brown, Insight Team

Miranda is a Senior Research Manager at YouthSight. She's an expert in qualitative and quantitative research and has a flare for creating bespoke methodologies.

Miranda Brown reports on the attitudes of higher education applicants, students and graduates towards the student finance system for the Department for Education.

student finance article    student finance article2

In advance of the long awaited and eagerly anticipated 'Augar review' of higher education (formally 'Post-18 review of education and funding: independent panel report') the Department for Education asked YouthSight to prepare a detailed report (entitled 'Attitudes of higher education applicants, students and graduates towards the student finance system' exploring attitudes of university applicants, students and graduates towards the student finance system. 

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The report was based on a 15-minute quantitative online survey with 1000 students, 1000 graduates and 500 applicants to university.  Fieldwork took place between 13th November and 27th November 2018.  Our 115 page report was published on 30th May 2019.  It sits alongside another report by research agency Opinium looking at similar topics but from the perspective of a nationally representative sample of the population. 

One of the key questions tackled by both reports related to possible ‘trade offs’ that respondents would be willing to make in return for various policy changes, in particular, changes to the fee levels for Higher Education tuition.  Both reports concluded that people are keen on reductions to the ‘headline’ level of tuition fees that universities charge and that they would be willing to ‘pay’ for this reduction by, for example, increases to the duration of the loan repayment period.  Whether or not this would be a ‘progressive’ policy change would, of course, depend on the exact way the policy was implemented, exact time period changes, exact price reductions, estimations of future earnings, etc.  Nevertheless, the research shows that, on face value alone, shorter repayment periods would be tolerated in return for appropriate reductions in tuition fees. 

Our report was considered by the Augar review panel in their deliberations.