Fees 'would have deterred students'
More than half of students would not have gone to university if they had been forced to pay £9,000 a year for their degrees, research has suggested.
A third (33%) say they would have been turned off by fees of £6,000, according to the survey by High Fliers Research.
The poll questioned 12,658 final year UK students at 24 English universities, each of which are expected to charge the maximum £9,000 for courses from 2012.
The findings reveal the extent to which the Government's plans to triple fees from around £3,000 to a maximum of £9,000 next year could affect students.
Students at Loughborough, Sheffield, Lancaster, Liverpool and Reading were the most concerned, with more than three fifths at each saying they would not have started their degree if they had to pay the maximum fee. But students attending Oxford and Cambridge were the least concerned by the fee hike, with 25% and 27% saying they would be put off by fees of £9,000.
The survey also reveals that female undergraduates are more likely to have been turned off university by maximum fees than their male peers. And £9,000 fees were also more likely to put off students who scored three B grades or less at A-level, as well as those studying languages, arts or humanities subjects.
State school pupils were also more likely to say they would not have gone into higher education if they had to pay £9,000. Some 59% of those that attended comprehensive school along with 51% that attended grammar school said they would have been put off, compared to 39% of those that were educated privately.
Managing director of High Fliers Research, Martin Birchall said: "Our research with the 'Class of 2011' shows very clearly that many of the top university undergraduates, particularly those originally from state schools or colleges, would have been put off doing a degree if their tuition fees had been £9,000 a year - the level that most leading institutions are expecting to charge in future."
Aaron Porter, president of the National Union of Students, said: "This is yet further proof, if any were needed, that trebling tuition fees will put a great many ambitious talented young people off going to university.
"What is particularly worrying is those that are most likely to be affected are from groups that are already under-represented in our universities or are studying in subject areas already under threat due to the targeting of Government funding cuts."