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Individualisation and student responses to higher education tuition fees in the UK, 1998-2003

By Giancarlo Guerrini


To this day, the introduction of Higher Education tuition fees during the 1990s proves to be a contentious issue. Despite their financial implications few students actively oppose them. I conducted a detailed study on the issue of the £1000 tuition fees introduced in 1998. I aimed to explore why Higher Education students do not take part in campaigns opposing tuition fees. My research was guided by drawing upon the individualisation theory developed by Beck (1992, 2002) and Giddens (1991). The empirical element of the research is based on a sample of students taken from two universities in the same city.\ud \ud It is argued that many Higher Education students do not actively participate in campaigns against tuition fees because they perceive their education to be an investment and accept that debt is a fact of life. It is further argued that students see themselves as individualised consumers who, as a result pursue individual rather than collective solutions to resolving problems related to educational provision.\ud \ud Though the students who participated in this research overwhelmingly believed the state should pay university tuition fees few students actively oppose them. This research argues that they have a low sense of political efficacy and perceive themselves to be a socially marginalised group with little significance in the eyes of politicians and society. Findings of this research enable the lack of active opposition towards tuition fees to be understood in its social context.\ud \ud Beck and Giddens’ analytical framework provides a practical explanation of why many students do not take part in these campaigns. However, it needs to be developed to provide a more coherent explanation of why so few students actively oppose tuition fees

Topics: LB2300
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:2510

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