New Research Shows High Cost Finance System Distorts Student Choices


NEON (The National Education Opportunities Network) have released the latest preliminary findings in the third cycle of their ‘Does Cost Matter?’ research project.

The research carried out over the last 3 years with over 4000 participants shows how the high cost student finance system is forcing would-be students to make choices that could increase their risk of dropping out and under-performing in HE. The Does Cost Matter research series has included young students from over 200 post-16 providers from across the country. It has found that because of worries about the cost of HE:

  • 40% agree/ strongly agree that they would have chosen different HE providers
  • Nearly 50% are more likely to go to HE near where they live or live with their families
  • Around 30% are choosing a course on the basis of future earnings rather than what interests them
  • Over 60% of students would choose different institutions if maintenance grants were still in existence
  • Over 75% of students intend to work more than 10 hours in term time with the majority doing this to cover costs of rent and food.
  • Students from non-white backgrounds and those eligible for free school meals are significantly more likely to have their choices constrained by cost

The author of the report Dr. Graeme Atherton, Director of NEON writes in the report:

‘Much of the existing debate on the impact of changing the level of tuition fees or availability of grants/loans focuses on the impact or not on levels of participation’

‘As the focus of widening access increasingly includes ensuring students from all backgrounds achieve their potential in and after HE, the negative impact of our present high cost regime on their ability to achieve this potential must be recognised.’

To read the full report brief, please click here