Sutton Trust findings highlight need for better guidance for young people: Russell Group

28 April 2008

In response to a MORI poll commissioned by The Sutton Trust, which showed that four out of ten young people said they were getting little or no information about higher education from their teachers and school, Director General of The Russell Group, Dr Wendy Piatt, said:

”We are very concerned that this survey has found that so many young people are receiving little or no information about higher education from their teachers and school. It is crucial that all pupils are given accurate information about higher education and the benefits it can bring.

“It is particularly important that pupils from families who haven't been to university, or who have less knowledge about higher education, are given the necessary support and guidance to make the best choices for their future. Russell Group universities are increasing and improving the information they provide for potential students about the qualifications and skills they need to be successful at university. However it is teachers and schools who are best placed to advise young people on their future studies.??

”It is heartening to see that a greater proportion of young people are considering university and that few pupils reported concerns about debt. As this survey indicates, a lack of guidance is a more significant barrier to university participation*. More importantly, the fact that this study found so few young people considered debt to be a barrier to going to university is further evidence that the main obstacle to widening participation in our universities is not finance but educational under-achievement. This why our universities have been focusing on tackling the root cause of the problem by trying to raise attainment of pupils in schools as well as improving advice and guidance.”

*Under the new student finance arrangements students no longer have to pay up-front fees the Government has reintroduced maintenance grants for students from the lowers and middle earning families; generous bursaries are available from Russell Group universities; and graduate payments are made in relation to earnings with zero real interest rate.

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