BMG’s latest poll for the Independent reveals strong public opposition to the current tuition fee upper limit of over £9,000 per year. The poll finds that the current fees regime, which has stirred controversy since its inception under the Coalition government in 2012, is supported by just 18% of the British public.
Conducted between the 8 and 11 August, the survey of a representative sample of 1463 adults shows that almost two-third of people want tuition fees either reduced or removed altogether. 34% would support the introduction of a cap of £3,000 – close to the previous limit that was in place prior to the introduction of reforms in 2012 – and 31% stated that the Government should scrap fees entirely. 17% answered don’t know.
Interestingly, levels of educational attainment do not appear to have an impact on support, with the current fees regime unpopular in all educational groups. Just 18% with degree qualifications, 21% with non-degree qualifications and 9% with no qualifications (relatively high levels of don’t knows) said the Government should leave the current fees system in place. Whilst older people are more supportive of the current system than those than those in younger age groups, close to three in five over 55s still stated that annual tuition fees to be cut or scrapped.
Unsurprisingly, given the party’s pledge to scrap fees at the 2017 election, those intending to vote Labour were the most likely to support making university tuition free, with close to half (48%) backing their abolition. However, whilst just 11% of Conservative supporters backed free tuition, a plurality (39%) did state that fees should be reduced to £3,000.
The poll also found that over two in three voters (68%) would also scrap the interest on money borrowed to pay for fees, which is set to the Retail Price Index (RPI) level of inflation plus 3 per cent, which implies 6.1% from this autumn. Just 17% wanted to leave current interest rates in place, with 15% unsure.
Robert Struthers, Research Executive at BMG research said: “Our polling for the Independent shows that, at their current rate at least, tuition fees are almost universally unpopular, even among Conservative voters and those who have not gone to University, who you might expect to be more supportive of the current system.
“That being said, many appear to support imposing fees in principle but appear to view the current cap as excessive. It is also important to stress that it is unclear the extent to which the issue is salient in the minds of the public. For example, it is not obvious at which level people would prioritise reducing or scrapping tuition fees, when set against other spending priorities, or indeed whether they would be willing to pay more in tax to fund the reductions.”
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An article based on these polling results, released by the Independent, can be found here.
Methodology, fieldwork dates, and a full breakdown of these results can be found here.
For a more detailed breakdown of results from this poll, or any other results from our polling series, please get in touch by email or phone.
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Ciaran McGlone – Graduate Research Executive