Over half of London-based students believe that tuition fees are paid in advance, new research shows. The poll, conducted by the University of Roehampton, found that 44% of students nationally thought they would have to pay tuition fees before starting a course, and this figure rose to 51% amongst London students.

In addition to this, one in five incorrectly thought that fee debts would appear on credit rating files, and more than two-thirds of students studying in London said the increase in fees had made university a less attractive option.

Paul O’Prey, Vice-Chancellor of Roehampton University, said that confusion about tuition fees had almost certainly affected university applications in England, which decreased following the rise in tuition fees to £9,000, “We need to get the message across that it is likely that graduates with loans for tuition fees will be paying less year on year than graduates who started their university careers in previous years.”

Despite this, Universities Minister, David Willetts insisted that there is still a strong demand for university places and pointed out that this year has seen “the second highest rate of applications on record”.

He addressed the fact that applications have fallen, saying that “the very big factor is the decline in the number of 18-year-olds; the number of young people is declining because of a fall in the birth rate about 20 years ago”.

 Ellis Schindler and Fiona Crosby

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  1. Dave J
    September 27, 2012 at 10:15 — Reply

    I don’t think it’s helped by many – including senior politicians – repeatedly asserting that higher tuition fees will mean some people “won’t be able to afford” to go to university.

    Everyone can ‘afford’ to go to university, and if you have to be in debt, student debt is the best kind. The question is whether or not your course represents good value considering how much you’ll earn in the long term as a result of it. So of course people should think carefully about whether they want to go to university (being at least a three year enterprise, it shouldn’t have been a thoughtless decision anyway), but it’s absolutely criminal that potential university students have been put off by poorly conveyed information and misleading soundbites.

  2. George
    September 27, 2012 at 13:16 — Reply

    The quote from the VC in this article is rather facetious as although the repayments are less per month you will be paying them back over a longer period so will therefore likely pay more in total. Professor O’Prey earned £218,000 in 2010 so doesn’t need to worry about how to make up the shortfall when a loan doesn’t cover accommodation and living expenses. He is also a beneficiary of the cut in the top rate of tax from 50% to 45%.

  3. Dave J
    September 27, 2012 at 14:58 — Reply

    George – Of course you’ll pay more in total. But if the question is whether the fees are affordable, the size of the monthly repayments is the important question, not just the total amount to pay back.

    And I’m not sure how the rise in tuition fees has anything to do with the size of the maintenance loan…

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