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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 August 2006, 12:46 GMT 13:46 UK
University 'to become more sober'
student studying
Students will work harder when they pay higher fees, a study suggests
Higher tuition fees will force students away from partying and drive them towards serious study and part-time jobs, a study suggests.

Southampton University's review of the international impact of increased costs found the image of studenthood as a carefree time was becoming outdated.

From next month, students in England will pay up to 3,000 a year in fees.

Universities foresee complaints from undergraduates who see themselves as consumers with rights, the study adds.

Students are working harder - both at their studies, and in part-time jobs
Professor Nick Foskett, Southampton University

Researchers analysed data from Australia and New Zealand, where students can pay at least 3,000 a year in fees.

They were found to be taking their studies increasingly seriously and subsidising them with part-time work.

However, the report did not find evidence that increased fees put students off going to university.

Campus life

But their lives were less campus-orientated.

"It's interesting to see how the notion of a separate campus life is pretty much non-existent now in Australian universities" said Professor Nick Foskett, who led the research.

"Students are working harder - both at their studies, and in part-time jobs in the towns.

"Their life is much more one of being an adult in a community, rather than isolated scholars.

"Part-time work is a fact of life for them, and they tend to keep friendship groups from school and the community as they carry on studying closer to home."

Parent power

The report also said parents were "predicted to play a greater role in higher education decision making and contribute more in subsidies to their offspring in the future".

Universities were picking up on this and involving parents more in college life.

"Parents are now seen as a stakeholder group by some universities and colleges and are catered for within marketing activities," the report said.

"At open days there are parent tracks, or talks. The incidence of parents attending events is high and has risen."

Impact on universities

The researchers also visited four universities in both Australia and England.

These expected higher fees to make an impact on how they operated.

They also expected students would be more likely to make complaints as they demanded "value for money".

But most of the institutions surveyed did not think students would start major protests - as long as the increased financial rewards benefited them directly, for example, through improved student services.

The review - Changing Fee Regimes and their Impact on Students' Attitudes to Higher Education - was conducted by researchers at Southampton University and the Knowledge Partnership.

It was funded by the Higher Education Academy.

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