Do I really need to go to University?

A degree is essential if you want to be a doctor or lawyer, but what are the other career related options?

It seems nowadays that there is an increasing amount of companies that are asking the question to whether it makes more sense to recruit staff straight from school and giving them training on the job.
University education offers many advantages and experiences, but it is not the only option.  Vocational courses have traditionally not been held in the same esteem as an academic qualification. However, for those not wishing to incur a long-term debt, and/or with a clear idea of which career they would like to follow, a vocational path – be it through an Apprenticeship or other skills-based course, what is the best option?

Going to university is about three things. First: having the opportunity to spend several years being immersed in an academic subject – a dazzling world of knowledge, ideas and learning. Second, it’s about developing skills to equip you for a fast-moving 21st century job market. Future job markets will be dominated not by ‘muscle’ jobs but by ‘knowledge’ jobs. That’s why politicians and employers accept that having more people study at university is a national priority. Third, university opens up horizons – physical and psychological. It’s no surprise that compared to non-graduates, graduates have been found to be healthier, happier and more active contributors to their local communities. But there are no guarantees. Every decision comes with its own pros and cons. But as a pound-for-pound career investment, going to university is hard to beat.

Dr Paul Redmond, Head of Careers and Employability, University of Liverpool

Apprenticeships are a great way to get a head start in a chosen career. They are available in 180 types of jobs, from accountancy to textiles, engineering to veterinary nursing and business administration to construction. On an Apprenticeship you earn while you learn and avoid student debt. Some Apprenticeships even count towards a university application. As an apprentice you learn about an industry and career path through on the job training, putting theory into practice and applying your knowledge to real life situations. To help you kick start your career as an apprentice, the National Apprenticeship Service has created an online Apprenticeship vacancies system.

Simon Waugh – Chief Executive of the National Apprenticeship Service

We have a world class higher education system, and a degree remains one of the best paths to a successful and rewarding career. Independent analysis shows that Graduates earn, on average, over £100,000 more in their lifetimes than non-graduates with two or more A-Levels. “Our higher education sector is now funded to record levels, and we are determined that all those who want to go to university should be able to. The Government’s target of 50% of young people going into Higher Education is now matched by well over half of young people in the UK saying they aspire to go. So having a degree is a good investment, but it is important that people do what is right for them, and we recognise that there are many other valuable ways to acquire skills and gain expertise.

Pat McFadden, Minister for Business, Innovation & Skills

The question ‘do I really need to go to university?’ is a most appropriate one at the current time, as we are seeing a restriction on university places and many of this year’s graduates finding it difficult to gain suitable employment. I am a great believer in people striving to reach the highest level of their potential, and in educational terms, this is often represented by a university education.  We should not forget, however, that there are many other measures of achievement, for example through career-related qualifications (NVQs, professional awards, etc) which can provide the option to continue work and study.  There are many examples of highly successful people who have followed such a route to the top of their professions.

Frank Gill – Principal of Knowsley Community College

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