Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Towards a typology of debt attitudes among contemporary young UK undergraduates

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

Towards a typology of debt attitudes among contemporary young UK undergraduates Thumbnail


Neil Harrison
Occasional Associate Lecturer - ACE EDU

Farooq Chudry

Richard Waller
Professor of Education and Social Justice

Sue Hatt


© 2013, © 2013 UCU. 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.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 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’.


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.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jun 6, 2019
Journal Journal of Further and Higher Education
Print ISSN 0309-877X
Electronic ISSN 1469-9486
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 39
Issue 1
Pages 85-107
Keywords higher education, student finance, debt, attitudes
Public URL
Publisher URL
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:


Debt paper - for review revised.docx (72 Kb)

You might also like

Downloadable Citations