ERIC Number: EJ1132717
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Reference Count: 17
Policy Response: Why Don't English Students Care about Money?
Higher Education Review, v46 n2 p81-85 Spr 2014
The big news in England as this issue went to press was that the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) had published its interim report on the effect of means-tested student bursaries on university retention rates (OFFA 2014). The finding that presaged a wave of introspection for universities is that OFFA could identify no evidence that bursaries help to glue students into their studies. Using national datasets, those receiving bursaries were found to be no more likely to move into their second year than equivalent students without the extra financial help. England has seen a decade of changes in financial support for students, with a huge increase in the headline cost and the average amount of debt incurred. However, this same period has seen a rapid rise in applications and admissions from poorer young people, with only temporary setbacks in 2006 and 2012, while the demand from the most advantaged groups has largely stagnated and even fallen back. Certainly there are many young people who have been deterred by cost, but the broad sweep has seen nearly every commentator proved wrong. So why do English students "not" care about money? All in all, a huge increase in cost has been associated with an increase in demand, most markedly among the poorest, while lucrative bursaries are asserted to have little or no effect on demand "or" retention. To those grounded in neoclassical economics, this must seem like rampant irrationality and explainable only by recourse to imperfect market information among prospective "buyers." This paper argues for a new economics of student finance that goes beyond the demonstrably simplistic, often shrill and rather patronising refrain that higher fees or lower bursaries will inevitably put poor students off or make them drop out of universities.
Descriptors: Foreign Countries, College Students, Universities, Higher Education, Tuition, Fees, Paying for College, Costs, Financial Support
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (England)