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Is university really worth it?

Posted: 31 August 2016

With tuition fees costing around £9,000 per year, is university really worth it? The average course lasts approximately three years, meaning the final bill for most students will equate to a staggering £27,000 – a lot of money for a qualification.

There has been a great deal of debate recently regarding the worth of a university education. The creation of high-skilled jobs has simply not kept pace with the very rapid increase in education and qualifications. According to the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR), a fifth of all workers in low-skilled occupations have a higher education qualification; not much of a reward for £27,000 spent on three years’ worth of studying.

Another survey conducted by totaljobs.com also shows interesting results. The survey found that 40% of university graduates are still looking for work six months after completing their degree. The figure drops to 25% after one year. More interestingly however, are the findings of a recent survey by Aviva, which highlighted that 49% of millennials who went to university believe they could have got to where they are now if they hadn’t gone.

There have now been calls for people to oppose the traditional route of college then university, and consider an apprenticeship instead – gaining that all important work experience. Even amongst graduates, employers value work experience more than the grades or the university they attended. Figures show that 58 per cent of employers rated work experience as “the most popular qualification among those presented.”

But are employers naively dismissing the full worth of a degree? Should a degree merely be viewed in terms of academic achievement? It could be argued that there is a lot more gained from those three years spent at university other than the amassed knowledge of a chosen subject. There are plenty of invaluable life skills to be acquired; from learning how to coexist with multiple housemates, to balancing demanding deadlines with an often hectic social life.

For many, university is a rite of passage, transforming youngsters into adults fully capable of standing on their own two feet. It could be argued that many graduates, particularly those who left home and went away to study, have more skills than their counterparts who chose to stay at home and work.

So is it worth going to university? It is an interesting debate, but one which will ultimately be concluded upon how employers go about hiring future talent; whether they’ll give more credence to degrees or work experience.

What do you think? Tweet your thoughts to us @RethinkRec.