In 2012, 54,000 fewer people started university courses than in 2011 – that’s a 6.6% drop in England alone! So, are we seeing the start of a new trend which will see fewer people pursuing further education?
I certainly hope we are. With tuition fees soaring, a degree can end up costing in excess of £30,000 and I, like most other young people, have been questioning if university is really worth it.
Back in 1997, Tony Blair and New Labour wanted to see most young people go to university. You’ll remember his “education, education, education” speech; it put education at the front of people’s minds, and indeed, more people went to university.
Schools all over the UK adopted the same ideology, encouraging young people to go to university. I remember when I was at school, university seemed to be the only focus. Other career routes were barely discussed; in fact, I think I only had two 5-minute careers meetings throughout high school!
To me, that seems wrong. I believe university isn’t a right, but a privilege. Not everybody is cut out for university and not everybody needs to go; it doesn’t even guarantee a job! There are so many other routes for young people to explore, enabling them to gain experience, earn money and get started with their careers.
You could go straight into the world of work by getting a job; apprenticeships are available so you can learn while you work; you could volunteer to gain experience and make a difference; you could even start your own business!
Now don’t get me wrong, university isn’t bad, it can be a great experience; I just think there are better options out there. For some people wishing to pursue certain careers, they have to go to university, but for others, there’s really no need.
So let’s move away from the belief that every young person should go to university and instead open their minds to alternative routes. Let’s change the focusses of schools so they equip young people with real life skills, enabling them to stand out and succeed, rather than just churning out individuals whose only honed qualities are academic.