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NatCen on the Election: Do we want tuition fees scrapped?

Posted on 10 May 2017 by NatCen, Research .
Tags: NatCen on the Election

Labour Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, has said today that the party would scrap university tuition fees as part of a national education service.

But, just how popular will this policy be? In 2015 we explored this issue on our British Social Attitudes survey.

Most people (62%) think that at least some students or families should pay fees, while only a quarter (24%) say no students should pay fees. We’ve been asking this question since 2004 and have seen very little change in public attitudes; generally people are pretty supportive of fees for at least some people.

Scrapping fees might not be such a popular policy then. But perhaps it’s one for the party faithful?

In actual fact, it’s only slightly more popular among Labour identifiers (at 27%) than the population as a whole. Although there is more support among Labour supporters than supporters of the Conservative Party, the level of support is similar to that among supporters of the other parties and those who support no party at all.

It is only when it comes to age that a considerable divide appears. The oldest are least likely to say that no students should pay fees and the young most likely. Even here though, only a third (34%) of 18-24 year olds oppose tuition fees.

Scrapping tuition fees is therefore unlikely to be a major vote winner – especially as those who are most supportive, the young, are the least likely to turn out and vote. 

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