For many young people today, it's easy to think of university as an automatic route - the default next step after leaving school. With fewer vacancies and greater competition, it can seem like there are not as many opportunities available nowadays as there used to be, and so going to university comes across as being the safest option.
But is the experience of university worth the enormous tuition fees and oppressive debts that come with it? Is university really the surest route to a successful career?
The answer is: no it isn't, at least not for everybody. Many other equally prosperous options are often overlooked by parents, teachers and students alike.
What does university cost?
In 2012, university tuition fees in England almost tripled, going from £3,375 per year to £9,000 per year. At the time, students were promised increased value for money, a far higher quality of university teaching, and far better future prospects - and if the higher fees actually were justified by a far higher quality of learning and a better future for students, then perhaps this could be seen as a fair deal. But with the number of students increasing each year, the value of a degree has if anything fallen since 2012.
And that's not the only problem. The latest report on student debt by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) revealed that graduate students are currently facing a lifetime of debt, averaging around £57,000. On top of tuition fees, which are continually increasing, this extortionate lifetime bill is made even heftier when maintenance fees and general living costs are taken into account.
So unless a university education is undoubtedly, unquestionably what you want to pursue, why saddle yourself with such a huge backlog of debt?
Is it worth it?
Many students who started university courses after fees were increased have now completed their degrees, but a lot of them are not doing too well; according to The National Union of Students, nearly half of all students who attended university as undergraduates in 2012 are now back to living with their parents.
And the struggle to find employment is only going to become more difficult, according to Sharon Walpole (the Chief Executive of Not Going To Uni, an organisation devoted to spreading awareness of options other than university to help young people secure a strong future). Walpole warns that graduate intakes for large employers will be reduced when an apprenticeship levy is passed in 2017. This levy will include an investment of £2.5 billion into funding apprenticeship training, resulting in an influx of apprenticeship placements and less room for graduates.
With more and more graduates achieving university degrees, things are only likely to become worse, with more competition, fewer opportunities, and less room for work. Read this article to find out how newly-graduated students are finding life after university, and how successful they have been in finding work
What else can your child do?
Leaving university owing £40,000+ is no way to enter the world of work, and a debt of that scale can be a huge financial and mental burden, not only for the students themselves but for the families who then have to support them. With far less priority now being made for graduate employees, finding work is becoming extremely difficult.
If you are thinking of attending university, and are not 100% certain about this choice, we implore you to consider all the available options. If academia is not your forte - if you are better with physical, hands-on work - then the trade industry might be just what you’re looking for, and Access Training is the best establishment in the UK to train and qualify aspiring tradespeople.
Please give us a call today on 0800 345 7492, and enquire about the courses we have on offer. Our course advisors will be happy to give you all the information you require.
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