Deciding to enter tertiary education and taking on debt : a longitudinal perspective
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This thesis describes a program of research designed to investigate longitudinally the role of debt in a cohort of 1232 final-year New Zealand secondary school students, their tertiary entry decisions and their attitudes towards tertiary education and student debt. It follows some of these students into their first year out of school into tertiary education or otherwise. Two surveys were conducted that employed the Attitude to Debt Scale (Davies and Lea, 1995) to address students’ debt and savings behaviour and estimates, tertiary education entry decisions, and attitudes to tertiary education and term-time working. Debt attitudes are found to be more complex than previously proposed, and this has significant ramifications for debt attitude theory and research. Longitudinal comparisons suggest students’ views regarding debt necessity does not change but their attitude to avoiding does. Students become more or less avoidant of debt depending on their circumstances. However, debt attitude results still support many of the findings of earlier research such as debt acquisition preceding a more tolerant attitude change. Debt and tertiary education attitudes are not well predicted. Students report engaging in term-time working to limit their student loans, but engaging in term-time working results in lower grades in their studies. Those from the middle and higher socio-economic classes are more likely to be positive towards tertiary education, and thus entrants, compared with the lower socio-economic classes. However, the results do not suggest this is due to debt attitudes or fear of debt.