University Students Would Pay 23k Fees: According to the interim results of a small survey conducted with second year undergraduate students at a single Russell Group university, students would be prepared to pay an average of £22,770 per year for their degree-level education.
However, the average answer for what they thought they should pay was £3,810.
The survey is based on the responses of 223 students, followed by a number of focus groups with the same audience, and the results were recently presented at the annual conference of the Society for Research in to Higher Education. The paper itself is a discussion of the concept that universities should provide value for money to students – not in terms of students receiving something in return for their fees, but also that that return represents good value with a competitive (or quasi-competitive) market landscape.
One of the more interesting findings of the research comes through the qualitative focus groups, and suggests that students are relatively relaxed about the amount of debt accrued at university, as it is money they will ‘never see’ – i.e. the money is paid direct to the university, and is paid back directly out of a salary.
However, there is also another interesting angle. The fact that students would be open to paying circa £23,000 per year (more than double the current maximum) suggests that many students feel that holding a degree is a necessity – perhaps for career or social reasons. Only 8.5% of students said they would not have attended university if fees were above present levels, with twice that number saying they wouldn’t attend if fees were higher than £15,000. However, this still leaves a sizable proportion who would be happy to pay more than £15,000 and, given that the mean average was £23,000, it is likely at least some students would pay much more than that.
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