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To think too much emphasis is put on university?

(89 Posts)
Fluffy24 Tue 16-May-17 13:32:39

Genuinely curious.

I'm a university graduate but many of my friends have trades and are just as successful in life/earn similar amounts. Equally I know graduates who are out of work and find, for instance, that their media or history degree isn't helping them to find a job.

I'm surprised at Jeremy Corbyn wanting to fund tuition fees (unless he thinks he needs the student vote). It costs alot of money and there are plenty of graduates already struggling to find jobs whilst we have shortages of some skilled trades, such as in engineering, construction etc where a greater emphasis on apprenticeships would be appropriate surely?

Aren't we setting up an expectation that everyone should want to get a degree, and perpetuating the sense that a vocational qualification is of less value.

If we want to ensure we can capitalise on talent regardless of wealth then some courses could be funded (engineering, teaching, medicine etc) where we identify a skills shortfall in a particular industry or sector?

I would prefer my son to undertake an apprenticeship and learn a useful trade than do a 'generic' university degree just because it's expected of him.

Of greater benefit to our whole society would surely be to spend the money on educating children instead.

claritytobeclear Tue 16-May-17 13:36:17


nixworld Tue 16-May-17 13:38:19

Depends if people who don't have a trade/ are an apprentice/ have a clear path they are going down.

I am a university graduate, but I hated the experience (not that relevant, I suppose!). So I often wonder why I bothered. But then again, loads of jobs I have applied for have specified a requirement for a minimum of a 2:1, so.....

MyOpe Tue 16-May-17 13:42:29

Good post Fluffy. I don't know the answer. But unlike many of your peers you can actually say a whole word "university" - rather than the downgraded "yooni".

claritytobeclear Tue 16-May-17 13:42:35

Sorry jittery I-pad.

The thing is, it depends what a person is good at and where their interests lie. Paying tuition fees address the social inequalities of not being able to afford to study something you are really interested in and good at. Why should people, who are good at academic subjects, be penalised?

I would love my DC to want to participate in something like an apprenticeship or a sponsored degree. However if what they are good at involves going to university, without this type financial support, we will potentially struggle to support them.

Free tuition fees addresses this unfairness.

ViolentDelights Tue 16-May-17 13:42:48

I couldn't afford university when I left school. I only managed to get my degree because they made student loans available to part time students. I could only afford my MA because of the postgraduate loan. I can only afford to do my PGCE because I can get student finance. I will never be able to repay the £50k+ (plus interest) that I owe to student finance. It would have been easier and far less stressful if it had all been free from the beginning!

Dh did an apprenticeship. That was fun trying to manage our family finances with him working full time but only earning £400 a month. Again, it would have been nice for him to be able to access some kind of extra funding so we could have put the heating on! We have a lot of personal debt because of the crap apprentice pay.

I don't think it's fair that in order for me and partner to access decent employment we have had to end up in an extraordinary amount of debt.

MyOpe Tue 16-May-17 13:43:22

Why d'ya hate it nixworld, if you care to say? It is relevant I think.

Fluffy24 Tue 16-May-17 13:43:43

nix loads of jobs I have applied for have specified a requirement for a minimum of a 2:1, so.....

They do but if general educational attainment levels were better maybe it would be less critical, e.g. is it currently being used now to identify those with a decent education with an assumption that if you don't have a degree you can't be very clever. ?

Fluffy24 Tue 16-May-17 13:47:40

clarity Why should people, who are good at academic subjects, be penalised?

But have they actually achieved anything by going to university if they can't get a job? Can our society actually afford for them to have the luxury of studying just to expand their outlook, given shortages in various public services?

ErrolTheDragon Tue 16-May-17 13:48:21

I agree. He should be looking to increase funding and the status of apprenticeships. Funding university education was affordable when it was a much smaller proportion going - I'm sure I'll get flamed but university should be 'elitist' (based on the ability and the potential of the student, not their family obviously). I've got a yr 13 just applied for student loans, so I've skin in this game, but I'm pretty sure she'd agree that JC has the wrong priority on this.

ViolentDelights Tue 16-May-17 13:48:38

How do you know who will or won't be able to get a job before they even have their degree?

ErrolTheDragon Tue 16-May-17 13:52:49

>How do you know who will or won't be able to get a job before they even have their degree?

Well, you can look at graduate prospect stats for different courses at different universities for starters. Part of the problem is, the student loan terms mean that they can take the attitude that if they get no job or a crap job so what, they won't repay the loan.

Addley Tue 16-May-17 13:52:50

Free education up to degree level/age 21 isn't that much of a stretch to imagine, when you think that free education has usually extended above compulsory education.

Fluffy24 Tue 16-May-17 13:54:36

Aren't we comparing apples with pears there violet though, most (though I understand not all) students aren't expecting to support a family while they study, similarly apprentices will generally be in their early twenties when they compete their training and the norm isn't for them to be supporting families at that age.

Obviously where a university course (or for that matter an apprenticeship) is by way of retraining then there should be separate provision for that, which would help families like yours.

Fluffy24 Tue 16-May-17 13:56:31

Free education up to degree level/age 21

Agreed, but why does it need to be a university degree?

ShatnersWig Tue 16-May-17 13:57:06

I agree. There was a huge impetus (under Blair, I think) to get more and more people to university. I think this was a mistake and in part has led to the whole tuition fees issue now. We should have done a lot more (ie financially) to encourage companies and tradespeople to have offered genuine apprenticeships for those who are less "academically gifted". I'd be pouring a lot more money into that if I was JC. Or offered more hands on courses that aren't necessary degree based.

DerelictWreck Tue 16-May-17 13:58:15

we have shortages of some skilled trades, such as in engineering, construction etc

Actually the shortage in engineering is in skilled workers, the classification of Level 3 up which require at least a bachelors degree

Fluffy24 Tue 16-May-17 14:06:57

Derelict so should those courses be free since there's a clear need.

Essentially if getting a degree is of benefit to society by filling a skills need then it should be paid for by society.

Addley Tue 16-May-17 14:08:00

Agreed, but why does it need to be a university degree?

Never said it did. There are lots of degree level qualifications.

Fluffy24 Tue 16-May-17 14:11:58

Sorry Addley wasn't meaning to sound argumentative! smile

Addley Tue 16-May-17 14:16:43

You didn't grin I just know there's quite a lot of people out there who don't know about all the different qualifications you can do so I thought I'd mention it.

Cost of education is something that bothers me; I have to pay for my level 3 course because I was too ill to do A levels when I was under 25. Okay, I get the 24+ advanced learning loan written off if/when I complete my degree, but that's a bit of a gamble because I might get ill again and not be able to complete the degree, and all the time in-between, the balance will have been accruing interest.

FreeNiki Tue 16-May-17 14:17:14

I recently met a young lady who was at a university at the bottom of the league tables, poor reputation and she was studying business psychology.

She wanted to work in HR. Instead of pissing £27,000 up the wall on tuition fees not counting hall fees and living costs, on a business psychology degree she should have looked for a job as an entry grade HR assistant ans worked her way up with her alevels and skipped university.

A business psychology which frankly is not a requirement for an HR job and not even a straight psychology degree, is a waste of
money imo.

FreeNiki Tue 16-May-17 14:17:30

So yes too much emphasis on university.

Fluffy24 Tue 16-May-17 14:22:35


I agree, and even if at a certain point in her career she needed some additional qualifications in order to progress she may have been able to get her employer to at least part fund them as part of her ongoing professional development, eg distance learning or part time course and probably in an area that's far more relevant to her job then a generic degree.

peukpokicuzo Tue 16-May-17 14:22:45

When employers state they are looking for people with a 2:1 or above what they mean is that they want someone of above average intelligence and the maturity to buckle down and put in a full day of hard work without someone standing over them cracking a whip. Getting a good quality degree is an obvious way to prove that you have these traits so if university degrees should be more rare then we need multiple other pathways that achieve the same standard of proof.

University study isn't supposed to be just 3 more years of schooling.

Fundamentally universities are places of research, pushing back the boundaries of human knowledge and understanding.

The primary purpose of having students is to train up future generations of academic researchers, with those who don't make the grade needed to go on to PhD research having at least proved that they know how to work hard and learn new stuff without being spoon-fed so will make good careers for themselves in other sectors.

It should not be the job of the university sector to train up future generations of workers for other sectors. The current bloating of the university sector beyond what can be reasonably sustained is due to efforts to achieve this.

There should certainly be funding for means-tested places at university to ensure that the people who get to pursue academic careers aren't limited to people from wealthy families.

Perhaps limit place to no more than 15-20% of the population but require all universities to match the demographics of their intake (in terms of gender, family income, etc) to the UK-wide demographics of those who achieve at least ABB at A-level - this would prevent the wealthiest from snapping up all the places by pouring money into extra tuition to get the top grades.

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