LibLink: Simon Hughes MP – Students are not being put off university by tuition fees

Simon Hughes MP writes at Comment is Free, following the publication of the latest UCAS figures.

He acknowledges the top-line 8% decline in applications and the mass protest that followed the original decision, but points out that applications from students in deprived areas have barely declined at all:

…a more objective analysis of the data shows a clearer picture. Although applications were down by a significant number, the total number of 18-year-olds in England this year is significantly down as well. If you adjust the figures to take account of changes in demographic, the application rate in England – which is where the changes in higher education policy have the greatest effect – has declined by only 1%. Just as important, the decline is proportionately higher in areas where more people go to university and which tend to be more affluent (where the figure is 2.5%) compared with more deprived areas, which very encouragingly have hardly seen any decline at all (0.2%). Both of these figures compare with a 3.5% population-adjusted decline in applications across England when the Labour government introduced top-up fees for the 2006 academic year.

Although Simon did not support the rise in tuition fees in 2010 – “My fear was that although nobody going to university for the first time would pay up-front fees, this message would be lost among the political fallout and the headlines of £9,000 fees. I was worried particularly about young people from very mixed and traditionally working-class inner city communities such as those I represent in Bermondsey and Southwark,” – he resolved that young people should make properly-informed decisions about starting higher education:

After being appointed advocate for access to education in 2011, I travelled the country and heard first-hand that when young people were presented with facts not fiction about the costs of higher education, they were much more willing to apply.

Read the full piece at Comment is Free.

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2 Comments

  • “Just as important, the decline is proportionately higher in areas where more people go to university and which tend to be more affluent (where the figure is 2.5%) compared with more deprived areas, which very encouragingly have hardly seen any decline at all (0.2%).”

    What Simon Hughes doesn’t make clear is that this advantaged/disadvantaged analysis relates only to 18 year-olds.

    We are told nothing about the backgrounds of the mature students applying – and it is among mature students that there has been a very large decrease in applications. As far as I can see, Simon Hughes’s article doesn’t mention mature students at all, which I find quite amazing and very disappointing.

  • All the more reason to take any statement in the mainstream press with a pinch of salt. Isn’t it time that the media were required to tell the whole story and not to spin it to suit the political leanings of their owners? Perhaps Leveson will look at theis as well.. but more to the point, why is it that the BBC so slavishly follow what the press, reporting the distorted stories, without cross checking or questioning them, as they do.!?

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