IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


The privilege of choice: How financial concerns influence students in higher education

26 May 2022, 1:00 pm–2:00 pm

students studying in library. Image: Robert Bye via Unsplash

Join this event which asks if prospective HE students’ concerns about college costs and the financial strategies they anticipate using because of them, widen or limit their choice of HE institution and subject of study.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Kiran Dhillon

A hallmark of English higher education (HE) over the last twenty years has been policies seeking to increase provider competition and student choice. Central to this has been student funding policy changes, leading to rising college costs.

In this presentation, Dr Gabriella Melis and Professor Claire Callender will analyse the findings from a nationally representative survey of 1,374 English college applicants and use latent class analysis to develop a typology of students’ planned financial coping mechanisms: minimising costs; managing costs and maximising returns; and no financial concerns; which prove to be socially stratified.

Minimising costs students are the most disadvantaged and adopt mechanisms which constrain their choices of where and what to study, unlike students in the other groups. Thus, government policies aimed at improving student choice potentially have the opposite effect for the most disadvantaged, perpetuating existing inequalities in access to, and the experience of, HE.

This event will be particularly useful for those interested in higher education and financial inequality.

LLAKES Seminar series

This seminar is part of this series. These seminars explore connections between learning and the promotion of economic competitiveness and social cohesion.

Related links

About the Speakers

Professor Claire Callender

Professor of Higher Education Policy at IOE, UCL

Her research focuses on higher education student finances and its consequences. She was a New Century Fulbright Scholar at Harvard, USA from 2007-2008. In 2017, she was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list for services to higher education.

Dr Gabriella Melis

University of Liverpool at Lecturer in Statistics for Public Health Data Analysis

Her research focuses on the effect of socioeconomic inequalities on child development and life chances, as well as on the assessment of poverty, adverse childhood experiences and their effect on children’s involvement with social care services.