Eleanor Busby covers latest Sutton Trust research on the decline of part-time and mature students in the Independent.

More than 40,000 fewer part-time students are going to university because of the hike in tuition fees in England, a new study suggests.

The Government’s introduction of higher tuition fees exacerbated the decline of part-time students in England, preventing many “second chance routes” to social mobility, the report from the Sutton Trust charity states.

There were more than 40,000 fewer part-time students in 2015 than five years before – when tuition fees had not yet risen to £9,250 a year for full-time undergraduates, it reveals.

If entrant numbers for those living in England had fallen by the same proportion as those living in Wales – who did not experience tuition fee increases – then there would have been 149,000 part-time students in England in 2015, instead of 106,000, it adds.

The number of part-time students in England declined by 51 per cent between 2010 and 2015 – and researchers say part of the fall was caused by higher tuition fees in 2012.

The drop in part-time and mature study is preventing those who may not have followed the traditional route from school – or whose work or family responsibilities make full-time study impractical – from going into higher education, the report warns.


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Read the research.