It's Your Shout!: Youngsters Trimming Ambitions to a Degree; Where Teenagers Set the Agenda

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Byline: RICHARD PEARCE

As the spectre of university top-up fees rises yet again, A-level students in Coventry talk to RICHARD PEARCE about the cost of higher education - and the effect this has on them and their families

ELEANOR NICKERSON, 17

HOME: Eleanor lives with dad, David, a driving consultant, mum Elaine, a fact-find auditor at AXA, and has a sister, Miranda.

SCHOOL: Tile Hill Wood School and Language College.

EXAMS: A-level psychology, history, sociology, AS Spanish.

AMBITIONS/CAREER CHOICE: Primary school teacher.

INTERESTS: Drama, going out with friends.

ELEANOR'S VERDICT: I think that having to pay thousands of pounds for fees, food, accommodation and amenities, not to mention books and clothes, etc, is a really daunting prospect. Many students are now attending a university where they can live at home in order to keep the costs down.

MATTHEW MARLOW, 17

HOME: Matthew lives with dad, Gerald, a management accountant, mum Marilyn, a sales assistant, and has a brother, Mark and sister, Marie.

SCHOOL: The Woodlands School.

EXAMS: A-level biology, geography, history, European studies.

AMBITIONS/CAREER CHOICE: Teacher, vet, environmental scientist.

INTERESTS: Cinema, swimming, tennis, going places.

MATTHEW'S VERDICT: I'm aiming to go to university next year, but it's cheaper to stay at home than to go away. I've been looking at places like Edinburgh, Plymouth and Bangor, but it's so expensive. I think the fees are influencing student choices. Students should move away because I think it helps them to become more independent. But the cost is preventing this. I'm looking for a degree which gives me a qualification that people actually want.

JOHANNE BUTLER, 17

HOME: Johanne lives with dad, Keith, a design engineer, mum Valerie, a special needs teacher, and has a sister, Sarah.

SCHOOL: Tile Hill Wood School and Language College.

EXAMS: A-level English, French, history, AS psychology.

AMBITIONS/CAREER CHOICE: Study English at university, possibly work in media or law.

INTERESTS: Cinema, spending time with friends, reading. …