Insight

Tuition fees debate hits Nick Clegg hard

Tuition fees debate hits Nick Clegg hard

Raised tuition fees

Overall, one third (31 per cent) of people agree with the recently approved plans to allow universities to charge tuition fees of £6,000 a year and up to £9,000 in exceptional circumstances. Half of people (50 per cent) disagree with the raise, of which 31 per cent strongly against it.
Those who would vote Conservative showed the highest level of agreement with this plan (60 per cent) while this number fell to just 15 per cent of Labour supporters, with three quarters (73 per cent) coming out to disagree with this decision.

Tuition fee cap

On average, people felt tuition fees should be set at £3,458 per annum, just £168 more than the previous cap. Almost a fifth (19 per cent) felt tuition fees should be £6,000 or more per year, while one in 10 (10 per cent) felt they should be £9,000 or more.

Would-be Conservative voters thought yearly tuition fees should be higher (£4,967 on average) than both Liberal supporters (£3,644) and Labour voters (£2,545).

There was also a discrepancy between those currently studying at university (£2,809), who had already been to university (£3,128) and had never been or had no intention to do so (£3,771).

When asked about other university education issues, the most contentious issues were:

Statement Agree Disagree
Charge higher tuition fees to international students to subsidise home students 70% 10%
Increased feeds will reduce students doing “Mickey Mouse” degrees 69% 8%
Government should focus on creating more jobs more than raising fees 64% 8%
Increased fees will mean only the “well off” will get to university and access better jobs 60% 20%
Level of fees should be set according to results of a mean test 51% 21%
All universities will offer the top rate so they won?t been seen as offering a lesser education 51% 16%
Agree with a “graduate tax” on income following graduation 44% 19%
Higher education should be free 42% 31%

Protests

With passion amongst the student population at its peak, only 12 per cent fully support the actions of the student protestors. Half (52 per cent) of people asked agree with their fight but feel that some have gone too far with their actions, and over a third (36 per cent) of people do not support the protests.

Knock-on effect

Under a fifth (19 per cent) of people think Nick Clegg made the right decision to back the rise in university tuition fees compared to nearly half (46 per cent) who think he made the wrong one. Notably, three in ten (29 per cent) people think that he really didn’t have a choice.

When looking at how this has effected voting intention, the Conservatives are currently in the lead with 37 per cent, just ahead of Labour’s 36 per cent. This is the closest that Labour have come to securing a lead since the election.

James Endersby, Managing Director of Opinium Research said: ?With so many people against the rise in tuition fees, we can safely say that this issue won’t be disappearing anytime soon.
?This Coalition Government move may play right into Labour’s hands as we are beginning to see its popularity rise to its former heights, and disillusioned Liberal Democrats starting to question their loyalty.?

Opinium Research carried out an online survey of 2,051 British adults aged 18+ from 10th to 13th December 2010. Results have been weight to nationally representative criteria.