Recent changes in the English tuition fee policies have spurred a debate on the impacts on student choices for higher education. Expectations range from a sharp decrease of participation in higher education to relatively little change in student demand. We surveyed 1,549 year 12 sixth form students from four institutions spread geographically across England. We have broadened the approach to the study of student choice by not only considering the impact of going to higher education or not, but have included in our choice scenarios the consideration of looking for cheaper higher education alternatives and of looking for higher education abroad. This brings our study from a focus on widening participation and access into the realm of the dynamics of increasing choice in a globalised world. The data suggest that financial issues are key influencers. We conclude that the English higher education system may be confronted with significant changes in student choice patterns, given the study’s finding that students show high levels of anxiety and consequently consider a much broader range of study options: within or outside higher education; in publicly-funded or for-profit institutions; and in the UK or elsewhere.