In their quantitative study of HE choice, Roberts and Allen (1997) found that a young person’s peer group was the most common source of influence on the decisions he or she made after that of his or her family. Over 70 per cent of their sample had discussed their choice of both course and institution with their friends. Similar findings emerged from Connor et al.’s (1999) research, with 90 per cent of their respondents having consulted friends about their HE choices. Although it is clearly not the case that discussing HE decisions with friends is synonymous with being influenced by them, Allen’s (1998) work — also a quantitative survey — suggests that friends do play a significant role: over 40 per cent of the young people involved in her research assessed the influence of their friends as either ‘important’ or ‘very important’.
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