The Effect of Fee-Paying Status on Autonomy, Satisfaction and Academic Achievement in the University Setting.
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The cost of an undergraduate degree in the United Kingdom varies wildly depending on where the student resides. Devolved governmental policy means students from Northern Ireland, Wales and England now pay up to £9,000 per annum to attend a Scottish University. In contrast, Scottish students remain and always have been exempt from all tuition-fee payment. We examined the effects of this fiscal disparity on the academic achievement, self-determination and satisfaction of British students, and whether paying for an undergraduate degree entails the conceptualization of education as a commodity. We utilized a questionnaire format to assess levels of intrinsic motivation (indicating levels of autonomy), grade averages and satisfaction levels in the university setting. Our format was guided by Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985) and was an amalgamation of several questionnaires that assessed different motivational forms. From our results we observed that tuition-fee payment had no statistically significant effects of academic performance, satisfaction levels or autonomy. However, we found intrinsic motivation to be a significant variable in predicting both satisfaction and academic achievement.