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The impact on demand of the Government’s reforms of higher education

  • 8 November 2012
  • By John Thompson and Bahram Bekhradnia
  • HEPI number 59

This report assesses the evidence that is available so far about enrolments at English universities this year.  A central concern about the changes introduced in England in 2012 has been whether they would reduce demand for higher education, and particularly for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. In carrying out this study we compared the pattern of enrolment over the years immediately preceding 2012 with that around the previous increase in fees in 2006.  We also compared these with enrolments in Scotland, where fees are not charged, and we looked in particular at the pattern of deferred entrants as well as the number of students who apply aged 19 instead of the normal age of 18.  Taking all these factors into account, our view remains that it is too early to judge whether the reforms taken as a whole have discouraged students in general, and disadvantaged students in particular, but that there is no evidence at present that they have.

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