A study of 2,000 young people preparing to start university found that many aren't ready for the challenges of living independently.
The research developed by Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), found that more than half of prospective students don't know how to pay a bill and that many believe that nights out cost more than paying rent.
Researchers said that many would-be students have been left worried and confused by the prospect of leaving home to start higher education.
The study found 61 per cent of millennials are anxious about the prospect of starting university, while 58 per cent are having trouble sleeping and 27 per cent are having panic attacks.
The research shows that applicants prepare for university in a state of mixed emotions. While 81% are excited about the prospect, 61% are anxious, with 58% having had trouble sleeping and 27% reporting panic attacks in the past year. The report highlights a number of specific areas where applicants’ expectations are out of step with the reality.
The key findings include:
- 60% of university applicants expect to spend more time in lectures than they do in school lessons, yet only 19% of students find this happens.
- Only 37% of applicants with a mental health condition have declared, or intend to declare it, with their prospective university.
- While most applicants (62%) believe they have a good grip on money matters, only 43% are confident about paying a bill and only 41% feel they understand student finances, with many under-estimating essential expenses.
- Almost half (47%) of all applicants feel unprepared for living with people they have never met before, with gay, lesbian, bisexual and other sexuality applicants less confident about making friends (58%) than heterosexual applicants (74%).
While most applicants (67%) are confident they will find the right support for any mental health issues, friends emerged as the first line of support for most applicants (85%). Half (50%) anticipate turning to academic staff, ahead of university counselling services (47%) or their GP (43%).
The research, which surveyed over 2,000 applicants, also provides early insight into applicants’ perceptions of the new Teaching Excellence Framework, with 72% of applicants saying a Gold rating is important to them.
The report’s authors believe that there are a number of ways in which universities, policymakers, schools and accommodation providers could work together to provide a smoother transition to university life. These include: better pre-arrival communications; the teaching of important new skills for applicants that will stand them in good stead; and improvements to the pre- and post- arrival experience for students.