Alternative Student Finance: current and future students’ perspectives

Research Report

E Pollard, C Huxley, A Martin, H Takala, M Green, J Griggs, N Ilic, E Cooper, H Piggott |   | Department for Education | May 2019

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The DfE commissioned IES and NatCen to undertake a qualitative study to understand the experiences of Muslim individuals who did and did not take up students loans, and who did and did not go into HE.

The work was commissioned to support the development of the ASF policy and product. The research aimed to engage with a range of students and prospective students (including a small group of non-Muslim individuals) to probe on:

  • attitudes to debt and the influence of cultural beliefs; 
  • making choices about HE;
  • choices about Islamic finance and what individuals look for in such a product;

Previous research has indicated that under the current student finance system of interest-bearing student loans, some students may feel unable to undertake Higher Education (HE) or that their HE choices are limited due to their religious beliefs.

The Government is therefore developing an Alternative Student Finance (ASF) model that would be compatible with some students’ religious beliefs and help to mitigate choice constraints.

This new research gathers detailed qualitative feedback from a range of Muslim students, graduates and potential students: exploring their decisions about HE, and the role that cultural beliefs and student finance play in these decisions; and their views on the proposed ASF model.

In total 77 individuals participated in the study – through one-to-one interviews and focus groups.