Nearly three out of four young people say they are likely to go into higher education – the highest for five years – and fewer are being deterred from university by worries over debt, according to the latest Ipsos MORI poll of student intentions published today by the Sutton Trust.

Seventy-two percent of students aged 11-16 feel they are either likely or very likely to go on to higher education, the highest figure recorded since the survey began in 2003. Thirty-nine percent said they were ‘very likely’ to go into higher education when they were old enough and 34 percent said they were ‘fairly likely’ (see notes).

Only 8 percent of the 2,387 students questioned said they were either ‘very unlikely’ or ‘fairly unlikely’ to go to university compared to 11 percent last year, a significant drop.
The main reason mentioned by more than half (52 percent) of those who do not think they will progress to higher education is the desire to “do something practical rather than studying from books.” Fifty percent want to start earning as soon as possible and 30 percent think they can get a well-paid job without a degree.

Only 13 percent reported that they are “worried about getting into debt as a student”, compared with 20 percent last year – again, a significant fall.
However, many students do not think they are getting enough information from their teachers about going into higher education. Four out of ten said they are either getting ‘not very much’ information (31 percent) or ‘none at all’ (9 percent).

 Sir Peter Lampl, Chairman of the Sutton Trust, said: “While it is encouraging that three quarters of young people aspire to university, less than half that number currently end up in higher education and those from poorer families are the least likely to progress. So we need to offer more support to young people throughout their education so that they are in a position to realise their ambitions at 18 and beyond.

That is why it is worrying that so many students feel they are not being provided with enough information about higher education by their schools. Research from Staffordshire University which we published in February showed that few students knew about the bursaries or mintenance grants on offer at universities. Today’s findings are a further reminder that support and guidance about higher education needs to start early on – at primary school upwards – and be a core part of the school day, so that no young person loses out.”

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