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Towards a typology of debt attitudes among contemporary young UK undergraduates

Harrison, Neil; Chudry, Farooq; Waller, Richard; Hatt, Sue

Authors

Neil Harrison Neil.Harrison@uwe.ac.uk
Occasional Associate Lecturer - ACE EDU

Farooq Chudry

Sue Hatt



Abstract

As the UK sits on the verge of a major change in the financing of both universities and students, this study seeks to capture and analyse the attitudes to money, borrowing and debt among contemporary young undergraduates. It reports findings from a qualitative study of 62 individuals in the second term of their first year at university, these being representatively sampled from volunteers across gender, social class, ethnicity and subject discipline. The semi-structured interview data was subjected to thematic analysis and this was used to derive a tentative typology of debt attitudes ranging from ‘debt-positive’ to ‘debt-angry’.

The findings of this study suggest that student attitudes are more complex than assumed in some previous research and journalistic commentary, especially with respect to social class. Counterintuitively, many students from lower social class backgrounds show a positivity about debt as a means of enabling them to access higher level careers; this is consistent with admissions data following the 2006 increase in tuition fees and student indebtedness. More generally, the mainstream of student attitudes appears to fall between the ‘debt-savvy’ and ‘debt-resigned’ types, with students being relatively well-informed about repayment terms and accepting large-scale indebtedness as ‘normal’ with most students being ‘in the same boat’. The implications of these findings, the limitations of the study and future opportunities for research are discussed.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2015
Journal Journal of Further and Higher Education
Print ISSN 0309-877X
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 39
Issue 1
Pages 85-107
APA6 Citation Harrison, N., Chudry, F., Waller, R., & Hatt, S. (2015). Towards a typology of debt attitudes among contemporary young UK undergraduates. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 39(1), 85-107. https://doi.org/10.1080/0309877X.2013.778966
DOI https://doi.org/10.1080/0309877X.2013.778966
Keywords higher education, student finance, debt, attitudes
Publisher URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0309877X.2013.778966
Additional Information Additional Information : Published online: 09 May 2013. his is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Further and Higher Education on 9 May 2013, available online: http://wwww.tandfonline...80/0309877X.2013.778966

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