The Sutton Trust today releases a report suggesting that, compared to their peers seven years ago, 9% more of today’s 11-16 year olds are likely to apply for Higher Education when they are old enough. Professor Ruth Farwell, Vice-Chancellor of Buckinghamshire New University and Chair of GuildHE, commented:

“Although the population of 18-20 year olds is set to decline over the next decade, this evidence from the Sutton Trust of HE’s rising popularity among young people means the current high level of demand for places is likely to persist in coming years. This adds to the pressure on Government and HE institutions to find ways to expand the number of places available to qualified applicants.

“The current fierce competition for places may be leading some capable and bright younger people to think they won’t qualify. We should avoid such perverse disincentives. Government faces a choice between giving ambitious people the education and life-skills they desire or expanding the dole queue.”

Alice Hynes, CEO of GuildHE, commented:

“The figures in the Sutton Trust’s report show the impact that a rise in tuition fees may have on the likelihood of study, which drops to 45% if the annual fee were to rise to £7,000. They also suggest that the impact of a fee rise on participation would be greatest in families without working parents, and that one in five 11-16 year olds are still unaware of student financial assistance.

“Given that fees need not be paid up-front by students, the Browne Review must look to create a financial system that provides clearer advice on the costs, repayments and benefits for potential students. It is essential that any rise in fee does not give more risk-averse students the sense that they are being priced out of the market.”

The report also found that 3 in 5 young people would pay more if they knew it increased their chances of a well-paid job. Alice Hynes said:

“HE equips graduates with a range of skills for the world of work, and GuildHE members’ institutions agree that it is important to demonstrate this to applicants. But like the HE experience, career satisfaction is linked to more than just income. The recognition of salary benefit alone is not enough to justify a high fee rate. We need to look out for the whole learning community, but if we are to afford the numbers of qualified graduates the economy needs, those benefitting from Higher Education will need to contribute more, and those who can afford to pay more towards the cost of HE must help subsidise study for those who are less well off.”

For more information, please contact:
Alice Hynes
GuildHE Chief Executive
Tel: 020 7387 7711

Notes to editors

1. The Sutton Trust’s report, drawing on research conducted by Ipsos MORI, into 11-16 year olds on higher education, is published as “Young People Omnibus 2010”. See

2. Information on demographic change among 18-20 year olds is found in ONS and Government projections published in 2007, used by Bailey and Bekhradnia for the Higher Education Policy Institute in 2008. See  The ONS figures relate to young people in England only, whereas the Sutton Trust survey relates to England and Wales.

3. GuildHE members’ institutions offer their students a wide range of opportunities in specialist and professional practices. GuildHE institutions include different types of higher education provider and are among the most dynamic and fastest-growing institutions in HE. For a list of GuildHE institutions, please visit:

4. Buckinghamshire New University is the only publicly-funded higher education institution in Buckinghamshire, providing quality, inclusive and relevant higher education that develops and builds the potential of individuals and organisations alike. Within a caring and supportive environment, it delivers high-quality scholarship, as well as focused research and professional practice.