Maringe, Felix, Foskett, Nick and Roberts, Dave
"I can survive on jam sandwiches for the next three years": the impact of the new fees regime on students' attitudes to HE and debt
International Journal of Education Management, 23, (2), . (doi:10.1108/09513540910933503).
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Purpose – The aim of this research is to draw from a project sponsored by the Higher Education
Academy and undertaken jointly by researchers at the University of Southampton and The
Knowledge Partnership UK, which aimed to investigate the likely impact of the recently introduced
new fees regime on students’ attitudes to HE and to issues of debt.
Design/methodology/approach – Based on a sample of 64 students approaching the end of their A
level study in four Further Education Colleges in the South and North of England, the research utilised
focus group interviews to seek views about the new fees regime which were to be introduced in
September 2006 throughout the country.
Findings – The research found that, while the issue of debt was a significant concern for many
students, the desire to go to university either immediately or in the long term, remained a strong
priority for the students. Different types of debt aversion, including risk debt aversion, sticker type
debt aversion, value-based debt aversion and life-style debt aversion, were evident from the students’
Originality/value – Overall, sufficient evidence was not found to support the general belief that
issues of student debt would significantly dissuade students from participating in HE. Rather, it was
found that students were more likely to be rational in their decisions, as long as the increased fees
would add value to their HE experience. Significantly, the research discovers a new form of debt
aversion among the participants. HE institutions need to be aware of the variety of forms of debt
aversion in order to plan for more strategic recruitment in a new fees and debt economy.
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