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  1. ITV Report

Number of pupils planning to go to university at lowest level in eight years

Credit: PA

The number of young people planning to attend university has fallen to the lowest level in eight years, according to research.

Many people said their reason for not going onto higher education was due to financial concerns.

The annual poll carried out by the Sutton Trust found that the proportion of secondary school pupils planning to study for a degree remains high, at around three-quarters (74%).

But this figure is at its lowest level since 2009 and is down from a high of 81% in 2013.

More than 2,600 young people aged between 11 and 16 in England and Wales took part in the poll.

Of those who took part, 14% said they were unlikely to go on to higher education, compared with 11% last year.

Seven in 10 pupils who said they were unlikely to go to university said they did not like the idea, or did not enjoy studying, while nearly two-thirds said they had financial reasons such as debt concerns.

More than two in five thought they were not clever enough, or would not get good enough results, while a similar proportion did not think they would need a degree for the jobs they were considering.

The findings come amid growing debate on the future of tuition fees, which now stand at up to £9,250 a year for universities in England.

The Sutton Trust said its findings are an important indicator of young people's plans before they sit their GCSEs.

Trust chairman Sir Peter Lampl said: "It is no surprise that there has been a fall in the proportion of young people hoping to go into higher education.

"With debts up to £57,000 for poorer graduates and soaring student loan interest rates, the system is badly in need of reform," he said.

Universities Minister Jo Johnson said that young people are more likely to go to university than "ever before" with entry rates for 18-year-olds "rising every year since 2012".

Jo Johnson said: "Those from disadvantaged backgrounds are 43% more likely to enter higher education than in 2009.

"Our student finance system ensures that costs are split fairly between graduates and the taxpayer. However, there is still more to do to ensure that students get value for money.

"That is why we have created a new regulator, the Office for Students, that will hold universities to account for teaching quality and student outcomes through the Teaching Excellence Framework."