Student Awareness of Costs and Benefits of Educational Decisions: Effects of an Information Campaign
University fees have recently trebled in England and there are fears that many young people may be put off from participating in further and higher education – especially those from low income backgrounds. This could exacerbate inequalities that are already very stark in the UK. In this paper, we investigate students’ knowledge and their receptiveness to information campaigns about the costs and benefits of staying on in education. We design an ‘information campaign’ that gives some simple facts about economic and financial aspects of educational decisions and test students’ response to this campaign. The fieldwork for our information campaign took place over the period in which the trebling of university fees was announced. This was widely reported in the media, so we also test receptiveness to the surrounding media campaign. The analysis shows evidence of large gaps in students’ knowledge, which are influenced both by the information campaign and media reporting about the increase of tuition fees. However, the latter greatly increased the perception of going to university as ‘too expensive’ – especially among low income groups. Our experiment shows that simple information campaigns can help to mitigate this negative impact on attitudes.
24 August 2012 Paper Number CEEDP0139