Higher Education Quarterly

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Students' financial concerns in higher education

Abstract Focus groups were conducted to explore prospective students' perceptions of tuition fees, maintenance loans and how these impact their decision to engage with higher education. Views on rebranding of the term ‘tuition fees’ to ‘student/graduate contributions/tax’ and the introduction of differential fees for different courses were explored. Concerns around high living costs of being at university featured largely in conversations with students, and much more so than tuition fees. Students were averse to the idea of differential tuition fees which they felt could create an elitist system where only affluent students could access some high‐cost subjects. There was little agreement with the concept of rebranding ‘tuition fees’ to a ‘graduate contribution, or tax’. Overall knowledge of student finance, in particular tuition fees, was limited, which in turn led to doubts and anxiety around the concept of student finance overall.

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