Following on from the shock General Election result earlier this month it is interesting to note that Labour’s over performance correlated with them promising students the abolishment of tuition fees. Although not a singular case, and perhaps coincidental, it is hard to shake the feeling that a party that was so boosted by a high youth turnout didn’t benefit from tapping in to the zeitgeist of youth culture which appears to cherish inclusivity, tolerance and fairness above all else. The youth vote was massively in favour of free education for all, and this is backed up by the latest findings by YouGov, released this week.
New research from Omnibus asked a wide variety of students their attitudes and opinions with regards to the value of a university in relation to the costs of attending. The results may or may not have been surprising, depending on your experience of higher education.
The report was based on more than 500 current students and recent graduates giving their views on whether university is worth it. It found that more than a third (35%) of those with a student loan who graduated between 2010 and 2017 disagreed that the “costs of going to university were worth it for the career prospects/learning I gained”. Six in ten (61%) agreed.
When asked when they thought they would be able to pay off their total student debt, a staggering 41% said that they thought they’d never be able to pay it off. YouGov’s research also finds that there is significant pessimism among both recent graduates and current students with loans about whether they will ever be free of the burden of repayments during their working life.
Those responding that they expected to pay off their student loans within ten years of graduation totalled a pitiful 10% of recent graduates and even fewer (5%) when current students were taken into account.
A caveat to this is that YouGov said “among recent graduates, these estimates may be based upon false expectations about how much they will end up having to pay back. More than four in ten (41%) say that they don’t understand how the interest rate on student loans works, compared to 25% who do. (The rest have either already paid off their student loans or never had one in the first place).”
With pessimism so high among students about their levels of debt, it’s surprising that a majority still find it well worthwhile paying for private accommodation. Whether this is due to poor standards in university halls, or whether students now are considered more money focused is unknown.
Could landlords benefit from the abolition of student fees? Well, if we are to take these figures as an indication that the removal of tuition fees would mean a huge influx of applications to universities, meaning that the simple answer would be yes as demand far outstrips supply meaning higher rental yields.
The Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) market stands extremely resilient and profitable, and if fees are abolished then expect demand to soar.
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