Brightest of tomorrow’s students don’t understand fees

Another shock story from the Education Guardian on fees:

A study published today Pure Potential, an independent campaign group which aims to increase access to university, shows that 75% of bright Year 12 state school students feel they do not understand university tuition fees. This is 12% more than last year.

The survey shows that this year’s school leavers are just as anxious and uninformed about the higher education choices available to them as pupils were 12 months ago.

Most know little or nothing at all about the financial support available to them at university (93% compared with 95% in 2006) and 29% are less likely to go to university because of tuition fees – a 2% increase on last year’s figures.

Some 30% do not feel at all confident about the university process, up slightly from 28% last year.

I must admit to having no knowledge of this organisation or its survey but these results all seem terribly vague – what does it mean to be lacking in confidence “about the university process”? Most of these students (60%) will also be the first in the family to go to HE and therefore a bit of uncertainty is hardly surprising.

And then we have this other helpful nugget:

According to the survey findings, siblings (33%) and newspapers (22%) are the main sources of information about university, with school career services (12%) and other initiatives (7%) having less influence.

I think this might have something to do with it – if tomorrow’s students are depending on their siblings and newspapers for factual information on fees and financial support it is hardly surprising they know next to nothing. Not a good position to be in given that the DfES has tried hard to get the facts across but still far from sensational.

2 thoughts on “Brightest of tomorrow’s students don’t understand fees

  1. I was just blogging about this also (

    My take is that the group (Pure Potential) are making more of a story than exists – they’re in the business of preparing students for university, and are a little activist in terms of access. This article is all about what they’re selling, using their own survey, and finishing with information about how to get on to the company.

    I think the characterisation of students potentially entering unversity (what they’re expectations actually are and – moreover – whether we should worry at all, and whether we should place the blame on the stable fees they’re guaranteed to pay, rather than every other aspect of student life) is rather skewed.

    It’s not a great article, and offends me as an econometrician as much as anything else – I expect more from the Guardian.

  2. Thanks zooeygoethe – your post is much more insightful – and particularly liked the completely justifiable reference to the Young Ones.

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