Does Cost Matter? Exploring young people’s views on student finance

January 25, 2018

The post below is written by AccessHE Research Officer, Tuba Mazhari, about ongoing research conducted in collaboration with NEON and Universities UK. 

In a continuation of NEON’s earlier Does Cost Matter? research, I have been conducting focus groups to explore the thoughts of young people (aged 16-18) on student finance.

To achieve national representation, students have been selected from colleges across the country in Norwich, Manchester, Derby, Plymouth, Sheffield, London and Hull.

Although we are at an early stage of this research, a few findings from our focus groups warrant comment:

  • It appeared that young people’s conversations and concerns were largely centred on living costs, while at university. Most students have expressed the need to work whilst at university, given that they do not believe the maintenance loan is sufficient for their living costs. This has raised concerns among young people who intend to undertake courses which necessitate long, unpaid placements which would make it difficult for them to work.
  • It was interesting to note that some students were strongly opposed to the fact that maintenance loan was dependent on parental income. Students reported that their friends’ with well-off parents were either unable or unwilling to assist them financially whilst at university.
  • Some students considered university fees an investment, while for others it was considered an unnecessary debt. Students reported that greater transparency around how tuition fees are paid back post-graduation, may increase the likelihood of applying to university.

The findings raise questions about how students can be best equipped with knowledge of student finance, and supported during their time at university.

For more information about this research, please feel free to get in touch with me at