Who is Heading for HE?

Young People’s Perceptions of, and Decisions About, Higher Education

Bates P, Pollard E, Usher T, Oakley J | Research Paper 3 | Department for Business, Innovation and Skills | Aug 2009

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This report presents findings from analyses of national longitudinal datasets of young people’s education and career choices in order to better understand potential applicants’ perceptions of and intentions towards entering higher education (HE).

It concentrates on young people, aged 16 and 17, at a time when they are making choices about their lives after compulsory education. It is an important study as it makes use of a dedicated set of questions covering attitudes towards and decisions about HE (the HE module) that have been inserted into two large scale face-to-face surveys of young people – the Youth Cohort Study (YCS) and the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (LSYPE). It therefore provides robust and up to date data on the HE intentions of young people in England. It also provides an opportunity to explore whether decisions about HE amongst young people have changed over time.

The analyses show who would consider going to university, for what reasons and in what circumstances, what barriers would need to be tackled to raise interest in HE and then to move interest on to real action, as well as young people’s preferences for HE.