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I was speaking with my brother not so long ago and he told me he wanted to go to university. I asked him what he wanted to study and he said he didn’t know, to which I responded, then why are you going? He said he was tired of doing menial jobs and wanted a career. Who can blame him?
A report by the BBC claimed that the average student debt in England will be just over £50,000 while those from poorer backgrounds and therefore requiring more financial support in the form of loans can look forward to acquiring debts of around £57,000. Nice.
I attended university myself but for the purpose of keeping things simple, I’m going to base this off those students who started university on or after September 1st, 2012. Unlike myself and those who studied prior to this date, these students will only start repaying their student loans once they earn over £21,000. The average UK salary is £27,000 with the majority of people earning less than this but still above the threshold that requires the loan be repaid.
The majority of jobs don’t even require you to have a degree, in fact there’s been a significant increase in apprenticeships that, according to gov.uk, take learners right up to degree level. This is probably something you have witnessed yourself first hand if you have been job hunting. Do employers even want somebody with a degree, an academic qualification? Or would they prefer a person they can mould and train from start to finish, benefiting from the labour while only paying them a segment of what they would need to pay a graduate who, let’s be honest, would still require some level of training.
I’m not against companies offering apprenticeships or being an apprentice, I mean what better way to learn than on the job, but I think it’s time we thought about who is really benefiting here. Since I did my degree, the tuition fees have tripled yet the degree is no more valuable. Some may argue it’s less valuable, given entry levels appear to be ever decreasing making university accessible to everybody regardless of their academic ability.
Now if you’re a person with a plan of becoming a lawyer, engineer, nurse, doctor, social worker, teacher, etc., any career that requires a degree, then yes university is the right path for you. Given the salaries associated with the careers, one would hope repaying the student loan won’t cause any financial distress. However, if you’re a person who is going to university to get a “good career” but you’re unsure what you want to do, then stop and asses your options. Working for larger companies with opportunities for progression is one route. Perhaps you’ve had dreams of working for yourself but have let less open minded family members or friends talk you out of it? Maybe you just want to move away from home and experience a bit of freedom which is understandable — have you considered a work abroad program?
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you’ve thought it through and it’s what you want to do. The information shown above suggests that somebody is clearly benefiting financially from convincing people that a degree in any field will result in a well-paid career or job when that simply isn’t true.
For those choosing to study or continuing to study, best wishes and I hope you get the outcome you expected whether that be a financially or personally rewarding career.
For those considering university, I would suggest that you assess your options, as there are a lot of graduates working in jobs that’s don’t even require a degree.