Rotherham young people put off university by £9,000 fees

New analysis of data recently published by the Department for Education shows that the number of school leavers from Rotherham going on to university fell following the government’s decision to hike tuition fees to up to £9,000.

Comparing the data for the last year of the Labour government (those who left school in academic year 2009/10 to start university in 2010/11) with the first year of the new fees regime (those who left school in 2011/12 to start in 2012/13) the number of Rotherham young people going to university fell by 5 per cent. This was the joint highest percentage point decrease in Yorkshire, alongside Sheffield.

The government has long argued that the higher £9,000 fees have not put young people off going to university, but until now it was not possible to assess the effect on young people across the country by analysing school and college destination data by local authority.

These findings show that some of the most deprived local authorities in the country have seen falls in the percentage of school leavers going on to university, including all of the council areas in South Yorkshire.

Commenting on the new analysis, John Healey MP said:

“These figures confirm what I have heard talking to people in Rotherham: the Tory hike to tuition fees is a cap on aspiration for young people from our area.

“That’s why Labour’s plan announced last week to slash tuition fees by £3,000 per year is so important. For the average young person who dreams of going to university, a Labour government will mean that they come out with almost £9,000 less in student debt.

“My fear is that a future Tory government would increase fees even higher, punishing poorer would-be students.

“UKIP have made clear they have no problem with the continuation of £9,000 a year fees, and have pledged to scrap Labour’s aspiration for more kids from disadvantaged backgrounds to have the chance to go to university.”

• The Department for Education data is available here

• The Guardian has reported that the Conservatives have previously refused to rule out raising fees above £9,000 in the next Parliament.

• UKIP policy is to continue with £9,000 fees for most students and scrap the target of increasing university participation.