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At what cost? Students’ views on Augar, funding and the cost of living

  • 10 October 2019
  • By Rachel Hewitt
  • HEPI number Policy Note 17

In this new Policy Note, Rachel Hewitt, HEPI Director of Policy and Advocacy, reports on the results of a new poll of students on Augar, funding and the cost of living.

Key points:

  • Students’ views are mixed between the current tuition fee model and Augar’s recommendation to lower fees: 40% prefer the current system of £9,250 paid back over 30 years; 41% prefer Augar’s approach of £7,500 paid off over 40 years; and 18% have no preference between the two.
  • The majority of students (79%) say the level of interest charged is one of the most important aspects of the funding system, compared to only 11% who say it is unimportant and 10% who are unsure.
  • Students are supportive of Augar’s recommendation to bring back maintenance grants, with 53% of students advocating for a mixed system of maintenance grants and loans and 32% saying they would prefer grants only. Only 16% support the current maintenance system in England, which is loan only. 
  • Cost of living is a higher priority for students than tuition fees, with 59% saying it is their top funding concern. For 18% tuition fees are a more pressing issue, and 23% place them equally.
  • Over half (52%) of students’ parents contribute to their living costs, while 46% of students’ parents do not. 
  • Of the students whose parents contribute towards their living costs, half (50%) receive more than £1,000 every year, 29% of students receive between £500 and £1,000 and 21% receive less than £500. 
  • Many students see living away from home as critical to their university experience, with around half (49%) saying they would still choose to live away from home even if this came at a greater cost, compared to 38% who say they would choose to live at home to save money. 13% are undecided. 
  • Over half (57%) of students say living away from home was important to them when they applied to university, compared to 28% who said it was unimportant and 15% who are indifferent.

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