UCU calls on government to reassess funding policies to ensure students can fulfil their potential

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Fear of debt and concerns over cost could be deterring significant numbers of young people from going to university, or choosing the most appropriate place to study, warns new evidence published today.

The UCU said the findings added further weight to its concerns that financial factors, particularly for the poorest pupils, were the biggest influence on young people’s choices over what and where to study or even whether or not to go to university at all.

A poll, conducted by Ipsos MORI for the Sutton Trust, shows that, of young people who say they are unlikely to go into higher education because their family could not afford to pay for them, over a third (36%) were from single parent households, compared to just 13% of those in two-parent homes.

Overall four-fifths (81%) of 11-16 year olds say they are likely to enter higher education. However, the figure drops to just three-quarters (74%) of those from the least affluent families. The poll also showed older pupils have the greatest fears about debt.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “Students’ university choices should not be dictated by money. That is no way to ensure the best and brightest can develop their talents and fulfil their potential.

“The government needs to urgently reassess its university funding policies. It’s not right that wealthy students can pick and choose what and where to study, while others are forced to look around for something within budget or not even go at all.”


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