Does student loan debt deter higher education participation? New evidence from England

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Callender, Claire ; Mason, G. (2017)

Research among prospective UK undergraduates in 2002 found that some students, especially from low social classes, were deterred from applying to university because of fear of debt. This paper investigates whether this is still the case today in England despite the changing higher education landscape since 2002. The paper describes findings from a 2015 survey of prospective undergraduates and compares them with those from the 2002 study. We find that students’ attitudes to taking on student loan debt are more favorable in 2015 than in 2002. Debt averse attitudes remain much stronger among lower-class students than among upper-class students, and more so than in 2002. However, lower-class students did not have stronger debt averse attitudes than middle-class students. Debt averse attitudes seem more likely to deter planned higher education participation among lower-class students in 2015 than in 2002.
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    Bates P, Pollard, E., Usher, T and Oakley, J. 2009. Who is heading for HE? Young people's perceptions of, and decisions about, higher education, BIS Research Paper No.3, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, London, UK.

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