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Is university the way forward after school?

Lloyd Fernley

Joseph Lamb

With the increase in University tuition fees and the current state of the graduate employment market, many young people are starting to wonder if they should go to university. There are a lot of different points of view to this argument, but let’s take a look at what the possible alternatives are, for example, there is a lot of talk in the media presently about apprenticeships. There are a lot of people that make a successful career out of apprenticeships rather than go to university. With this in mind, the popularity of apprenticeships is rising.

With the lure of well-paid apprenticeships and instant salary on one side of the coin and the pressure of schools and family on the other it can become very difficult to make a decision on whether to go to university. Let’s look at this in a bit more detail; gaining a degree is the number one criteria about university. Indeed, with some careers and professions such as nurses and doctors it is absolutely vital to gain a qualification. The degree is a stepping stone for their chosen career. However, it is when you study for a degree that is less specific and more open that you should consider things a bit more carefully.

At present, it is generally thought that a student will leave University with around £50,000 of debt. It is also more alarming that they may leave University and struggle to find a job. Current figures state however that during the course of a graduate’s working life they will earn approximately £130,000 more than an ‘A’ level student with three decent grades. That figure equates to about £3,250 per year assuming 40 year working time. However, with fees potentially increasing further and global competition for jobs in the UK, this figure may become less and less in the coming years. On the other hand, this is only an average analytical figure and although most will profit from their degree there will be some that could be worse off.

It is though worth looking to the long-term benefits as opposed to the short-term student debt. Attending university could definitely improve your social life and general personal skills which could inspire confidence. You meet so many new people and it’s a great way to meet new friends. You may however already have a good set of friends and if you are happy at home then you may want to stay.

Bearing these factors, and many others, in mind you may start to question if it is really worth going to university. It is something that should take a lot of careful thought, but do not be deterred with the new tuition fees for studying at university. Also, it’s important to remember that university is not the only answer when leaving school. There are so many more alternatives and some can really pay off if you have the determination and drive.

Apprenticeships are very popular at the moment. They can be a great alternative to university as you train while you work. So you are earning money and gaining a qualification (usually an NVQ) at the same time. If you are successful in an apprenticeship then you usually gain a full-time job out of it. You can earn a lot of money and have no debt at all.

The range of apprenticeships available is also a benefit. You can work in a number of sectors including agriculture, beauty, finance, or media. If you have seen shows such as The Apprentice then there are candidates that prove that a degree is not all you need to succeed to get into a business although not all of them I may add!

The National Apprentice Service is a good place to start for information that you may need when considering an apprentice route.

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