The Student Room Survey: The new face of Higher Education


This is the degree I want to do and this is the best university that offers it. A rise in fees wouldn’t make me change course or university but reconsider university altogether.”

This is the response from a student asked whether they think that an increase in fees will affect their university decision.

Access denied - Will students swallow the debt or stay away?

The Student Room carried out a survey to find out what students thought about the Independent Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance.

Over 1300 students were surveyed and the results provide an insight in to how past, present and future students believe the HE system in the UK will be affected.

Title: Student Reaction to University Funding and Fees Review

Population: Members of The Student Room

Sample: 1300

Survey Dates: 12 – 14 October 2010

Key Findings

  • 40% of GCSE & A-Level students will reconsider attending university if the Browne Review fee recommendations are implemented
  • Over 65% of students from low income families planning to go to university say they would be forced to compromise what they would study and where in order to be able to afford it
  • 65% will consider Scottish universities to avoid high graduate debt
  • 90% feel they will need to work part time through their degree
  • 80% of current undergraduates from low income families would NOT have chosen to go to university if they had faced the graduate debt proposed in the Browne Review
  • 80% don’t think the alternatives to attending university are clear enough

Potential Students

Undergraduates and Graduates

Weakening Social Mobility

Politcal Opinion

Graduate Tax

  • 35% of middle class students with graduate parents are not sure if they’ll be able to follow in their parents footsteps if there is a significant rise in fees
  • 50% don’t know what they will do if they don’t go to university
  • 73% would consider studying abroad
  • Almost 60% will consider going to the USA to get a degree

“I can’t go and train to become a mental health nurse if tuition fees rise, so the NHS will be losing out.” A-Level Student

“It seems like go to uni or work in Tesco.” A-Level Student

“I won’t go in the UK- I’ll go abroad (probably the Netherlands)” A-Level Student

  • 80% of current students and graduates believe that the fee rise will have an impact on the traditional university experience
  • 23% believe they get value for money from their university at the current rate


“With much less social diversity due to the numbers of people from less well off backgrounds being put off due to the prospect of high levels of debt with the compounding effect of higher interest charges the HE experience will revert to one of social immobility and elitism.” Graduate

“An increase in private providers and part time courses, increasing commodification of HE and a differential market in fees will all come together to fundamentally alter what HE looks like in England.” Graduate

“Students having to virtually work full-time to meet living expenses etc will not have time to fully concentrate on their studies. Those with the best final results will be those whose parents can provide the most financial support.” Graduate

  • Over 60% of lower and middle income households would consider living at home and studying at a local university whereas only 20% from high income households would do this
  • Up to 90% of students from low and middle income households would have to work part time to support themselves at university compared to less than 60% from high income households
  • The majority of students would change their course or university for a cheaper option but those from higher income background are a lot less likely to compromise. In fact those from the middle income households are more likely to hunt for a bargain when choosing their university or course
  • The majority of those from lower and middle income backgrounds would not have gone to university if fees had been over £7,000 whereas the majority of high income students would still have gone


“Only because my parents can afford the higher rate. It is not fair to others.” Graduate

I want to be a dentist. I can’t study for a cheap degree and then apply for a dentistry job. So my only alternative is to find a cheaper country to study in…and then work in. In the long term it will be the UK’s loss!” A-Level Student

“I don’t want to jeopardise my degree performance by working during the academic year.” Undergraduate

“It is the potential trade-off between doing the best possible in the course (and having lots of debt at the end), or reducing the debt you graduate with but without being able to commit 100% to study.” A-Level Student

  • 38% who voted for Lib Dem in the last election wouldn’t vote for them again
  • 19% who voted Conservative at the last election said they wouldn’t vote for them again
  • 44% wouldn’t change how they vote


“I am disgusted at the Liberal Democrats. They were the party for the youth, and now they have turned their backs on us. They were supposed to be supporting students in this coalition, and instead they advocate cutting funds to Universities, and are making us pay for it.” Undergraduate

“I have already decided never to vote Lib Dem again based on this and other measures, not to mention my own views have gone Left since the election, I would imagine that many people will be furious at how they promised one thing and will now gurantee that the opposite happens.” Graduate

“I would make sure I never voted Conservative or Lib Dem EVER” A-Level Student

  • 38% of students believe a Graduate tax is a preferable solution to funding needs
  • Over 65% of students from low income families planning to go to university say they would be forced to compromise what they would study and where in order to be able to afford it.

For the full comprehensive report including detailed analysis and statistics click the button below

Download Report

  • Kailan

    It seems to me that one of the main issues with the review is the impact it will have on social mobility. As the results in this blog show that those from high income households will have greater choice when deciding their preferred course and university, as they will not have the burden of financial worries of huge graduate debt.
    In addition to this the fact that the majority of those from lower income backgrounds expect to work whilst at uni will inevtiably effect the amount of time they spend studying, which could eventually impact on their final grade, further enforcing a class divide.

  • Andy


    You pay a GRADUATE contribution once you start earning over £21k. Can we please stop prohibiting access by spreading half truths, propoganda and lies.

    Less well off students from poorer backgrounds benefit more from the reccomendations outlined by Browne, we really need to draw this message out if we want to tackle the problem of access to HIgher Education