Pupil awareness of the costs and benefits of university

A Centre for the Economics of Education Discussion Paper looks at what impact an information campaign and media reporting on university tuition fees had on pupils’ understanding of the costs and benefits of university.

Participating Year 10 pupils completed a survey about the cost and benefits of higher education, followed by a similar survey eight to 12 weeks later. In between the two surveys treatment schools were given information packages about the costs and benefits of staying in education. Control schools were given this after the second survey. At the time of the study the increase in tuition fees was announced, so the researchers also measured the impact of media reporting on both groups.

Their analysis showed that pupils had significant gaps in their basic knowledge of the costs and benefits of going to university, which was influenced by both the information campaign and media reporting. The change to fees, and specifically media reporting of it, increased the perception of going to university as “too expensive” – especially among lower income groups. However, it also showed that a relatively inexpensive and properly directed information campaign can help to mitigate this effect.

Source: Student awareness of costs and benefits of educational decisions: Effects of an information campaign (2012), Centre for the Economics of Education

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