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Research finds link between increased grant and increased participation

March 31, 2015

An article published in the Economics of Education Review late last year provides, as it authors say, “rare evidence” of the practical impact of student support on participation levels.

Money for nothing: Estimating the impact of student aid on participation in higher education, by Dearden, Fitzsimons and Wyness is available in full here.

The authors examined the effect of introducing a £1,000 grant in England in 2004.  Over the period examined there was no other change to student funding.  Fees remained at £1,000 (mean-tested, paid upfront) and the grant substituted for loan: total living costs did not increase.  The research uses students above the grant cut-off as a control group, as their funding did not change at all.

The authors report that the grant increase resulted in a 3.95% increase in participation rates in the group affected (which was students from households with incomes below £22,500).

This is a useful study, because there is very little hard evidence available on how changes to student support affect student behaviour.  The piece also includes useful links to research in other countries on this theme, with which its findings are compatible.

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