Student Debt, Higher Education Participation and Intermediate Skills Development

Following the reforms of higher education (HE) student funding, and increase in tuition fees, introduced in 2012-13, this research is exploring whether potential students’ attitudes to debt and HE participation have changed over time. This project is supported by the ESRC-funded Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies (LLAKES) in which NIESR is a partner together with the Institute of Education, University of London and the University of Southampton.


We aim to learn more about how student attitudes to debt affect decisions to enter HE, or take up alternative education and employment options, such as studying part-time, taking intermediate-level qualifications, and combining such studies with apprenticeship training.  All these options are of interest to policy-makers because they may encourage more employers to provide financial support and/or apprentice training to well qualified young people.


The main data source for the project will be a survey of sixth form students and FE college students who are currently studying towards qualifications which give them the potential to enter HE. The results from this survey will be compared with findings from a similar survey undertaken in 2002-03.