Almost eight out of 10 teenagers south of the border who intended to go to university will change their plans because of the hike in tuition fees, a poll has revealed.
Some 15 per cent of pupils in Years 10, 11 and 12 (S4-6) have already ditched ambitions to study at university because of the planned increase in fees, which will rise from pound;3,375 to a maximum of pound;9,000 per year in England and Wales from next year.
Almost one in five of the pupils questioned by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) said they would choose universities that do not charge maximum fees, and a further 17 per cent said they were considering studying at further education colleges or attending university abroad.
NFER, which surveyed 433 secondary-school pupils in England who had been planning to go to university, found students from poorer homes were more likely to be put off by the fee increase. Forty-three per cent of those from affluent backgrounds said they would not change their plans, compared with 21 per cent of pupils overall.
The report comes as students rush to get into universities this year to avoid the fee hike.
Two weeks ago, the website of admissions service Ucas collapsed after students flocked to the site to see if they had been accepted to their chosen course.
Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the results of the study were not surprising.
"Students now have only got one chance at their course. In the past they could switch courses (if they weren't happy)."
Maria Charles, project director for NFER's omnibus surveys, said that until applications for September 2012 were finalised it would be hard to know the real impact of the rise on young people's choices.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: "No one should be put off going to university for financial reasons. Next year the majority of students will not pay pound;9,000 for their tuition and first-time undergraduates will not have to pay upfront costs."
- 15 per cent of teenagers have abandoned plans to go to university.
- 17 per cent are considering FE colleges or attending university abroad.
- 19 per cent will apply only to cheaper universities.
- 26 per cent will apply only to local universities so they can live at home.
- 21 per cent will not change their plans.