Student choices: Twin policies fail the popularity test

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The Independent Culture
There is no doubt from this survey that the Government's decision to impose a pounds 1000 fee on university students and offer loans instead of grants is massively unpopular. Only two per cent of the students and parents interviewed strongly supported the twin policies. More measured support for the grants changes came from 24 per cent of students. But only 15 per cent of students and 16 per cent of parents could raise even half a cheer for the imposition of fees.

Half of all students were strongly opposed to the loss of grants, with another 29 per cent unhappy. Parents felt even more strongly, with 63 per cent strongly and 19 per cent moderately opposed to the new system of loans for maintenance.

Fee-paying got an even more decisive thumbs down. Overall, 53 per cent of students were strongly opposed to the imposition of fees, supported by 60 per cent of parents. Another 28 per cent of students and 20 per cent of parents were more mildly against fee-paying.

The strongest opposition to fees and loans was among parents from social classes C2, D and E.

Parents and students in the south of England were slightly less opposed to fees than those in the north and Midlands. On the maintenance grants issue, people in the Midlands seem particularly incensed, with 72 per cent of parents strongly opposed to the change.

Girls were more opposed to paying fees than boys. The split among students on the loss of grants was more even, but mothers were more strongly against the change than fathers.

Almost half those involved in this survey felt that the introduction of fees would have little effect on standards in universities, while a quarter felt that standards would rise and another quarter believed they would fall.

50 per cent of those surveyed felt that their families would be more affected by the imposition of fees than the switch to loans, with another twelve per cent believing that the two changes would affect them equally.