UK Students’ Subjective Experiences and Responses to Higher Education Austerity : Implications and Lessons for the Future

Athanasia Chalari, Clive Sealey

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


The 2010 UK Coalition government published The Coalition: our programme for government, outlining ‘deficit reduction’ as the main priority for the Coalition’s fixed 5 years of government. The significance of this became apparent through the austerity measures in public expenditure and specifically social policy expenditure. However, it is young people for whom austerity has had the most deleterious effects, with the policy changes in higher education funding in 2011 being emblematic. These changes included a tripling of undergraduate higher education (UHE) tuition fees paid by students from £ 3,000 to £ 9,000 per year, and an increase in means tested repayable maintenance loans of up to £ 5,500 for those living outside London. The government rationalised these changes as a way to pay for the increasing student population. As a consequence of these significant changes, the estimate of debt from the Institute for Fiscal Studies for students leaving UHE following these changes is over £ 44,000, nearly € 20,000 more than before the change (Crawford and Jin 2014). This empirical qualitative study aims to explore the ways in which UHE students in the UK have been affected by these policy measures. The study analyses students’ subjective experiences and responses to the UHE funding policy changes, and highlights in particular that these austerity policy changes to UHE student financing is impacting on younger generation in a way that has the potential to destabilize their personal and professional lives now and in the future. The study also discusses how in other European countries who may be affected by similar austerity measures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-245
Number of pages16
JournalObservatoire de la société britannique
Early online date10 Dec 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Dec 2017


  • UK austerity
  • undergraduate higher education funding
  • student maintenance loans
  • 2010 Coalition government
  • precarity
  • subjective experiences


Dive into the research topics of 'UK Students’ Subjective Experiences and Responses to Higher Education Austerity : Implications and Lessons for the Future'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this