The Telegraph is reporting that universities will be forced to provide local schoolchildren with clear advice about the price of degree courses amid fears too many teenagers are being put off higher education by an increase in tuition fees…
The Government’s Office for Fair Access said academics must “do more to reach out to potential students” in return for the right to charge up to £9,000-a-year for undergraduate courses.
The comments came as a study published today found that two-thirds of schoolchildren have “significant concerns” about the cost of university.
Although the majority of schoolchildren still aspire to higher education, figures show 65 per cent were worried about fees, living expenses and the economic value of a degree.
The Sutton Trust, a charity promoting social mobility, which published the study, used the findings to call for the introduction of a new system of means-tested tuition fees, claiming that children are facing potential debts of £40,000.
From September 2012, universities in England have been able to charge up to £9,000-a-year for a degree.
To coincide with the move, they have been required to draw up “access agreements” setting out a series of measures designed to ensure that higher fees do not deter the poor from applying.
This includes admissions targets to boost entry rates among disadvantaged students, descriptions of outreach programmes and spending on bursaries.
Reacting to the Sutton Trust study, Prof Les Ebdon, the Government’s director of fair access, said advice to schoolchildren specifically on the issue of finance had to be included in agreements next year.
He said no schoolchildren should “be put off going to university by the cost” because fees only have to repaid once graduates earn more than £21,000.
But he added: “Today’s survey suggests this message is still not getting through clearly enough.
“So I am calling on the higher education sector to do more to reach out to potential students and give them clear information, advice and guidance about higher education and finance, including the non-repayable bursaries and other financial help that universities and colleges themselves provide.
“I expect to see evidence of this in access agreements for 2014-15.”
So what specific actions should universities take to ensure fewer children are put off applying because of the cost of tuition fees? Or maybe some are right to re-consider? What do you think?