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Free Speech - Higher Education - Is it worth it?

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James Emtage James Emtage | 11:52 UK time, Friday, 10 August 2012

University Graduates


Hummm. It's that time of year again. Results.

For thousands of young people across the UK, this week and next is crunch time as the Scottish Highers and A-Level results come out. To uni or not to uni, that is the question.

News just in is that university applicants have fallen by nearly 9% as the new academic term will see fees rise to £9,000 per year across some parts of the UK.

To debate this, we're focusing our next Free Speech on Higher Education, and will be coming live from Edinburgh on Wednesday 15th at 7pm.

Kicking the debate off, here's three young people in three different positions answering this question:

Higher Education. Is it worth it?


Contributor - Craig James

Craig James, 25, finished school with GCSEs and is now a successful office worker in London

Is Higher Education worth it? Only if you will use it for your career!!!

50% of jobs do not require Higher Education. This is a target by the Government to keep unemployment figures down. Too many people are going on to Higher Education for the completely wrong reasons. They are told to either carry on in Higher Education or fail in life. It's that drastic.

You should only do A-levels and a degree in something you want to do as a career. The taxpayer should not pay for your hobby! I am worried that in 10 years' time we will have a new class system: the good degrees, the bad degrees, and the no degrees.

It is also creating a false pretence that a Higher Education gives you a right to an entry level £25k job; it doesn't! And people are starting to realise that now! And what does the taxpayer get? A more educated dole queue.


Contributor - Ellen Coyne

Ellen Coyne, 21, Journalist Student, University of Glamorgan

It's unfortunate that so many employers in certain professions, like journalism, insist on people having a degree. It can sometimes seem like nothing more than a very expensive line on your C.V.

I would prefer if fewer students felt obliged to go to university, as an aptitude for academia is hardly ever indicative of a person's ability at their chosen profession.

However, it's hard to imagine another scenario where I'd have as much time to take on work placements, start-up projects like a student paper and focus on blogging and freelancing.

At the end of three years, the best thing on your C.V. shouldn't be your degree. If you use your time wisely and grow-up, university can be the making of you. But that's based on your work as an individual; not based on the course you're doing or grades that you get.


Contributor - Stefan Difinizio


Stefan Difinizio, 16, about to start AS Levels in Bath

With the rise on university fees, young people are increasingly asking themselves if it is worth going or not. I have yet to make a decision. I have just finished my GCSEs and am starting my AS-levels, but I know I'm going to have to think long and hard about what I want to do.

I have just completed a weeks media work experience, which Free Speech helped me get after watching the show in Bristol back in May. Reflecting on that week, I have seen how successful you can be even if you didn't go to university, and the company founder was a good example of this.

However I realise that it is still important to go through education. I will probably go to university as I think it is important to have a degree, but I will also make sure I have lots of work experience to set me apart from the other people in an interview.


Free Speech is not just about listening to what other people have to say though. It's about YOU having YOUR say. And if you've not yet seen a live show, or got involved with the debates online, then maybe now is your time...

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So hop online to Facebook, Twitter or use the comments below and tell us whether you think Higher Education is worth is.

See you on Wednesday at  7pm.



  • Comment number 1.

    Unfortunately there a lot of people who get channelled in the wrong direction. Naturally, this can be a result of internal and external causes. However, we need to educate people about education itself and its relevance in today's society. The debate of the people who are led and then become lost is covered in my article 'Backwards Britain' which can be found here...
    Thank you TTH.

  • Comment number 2.

    Society has always required specialised labour, and consequently training.
    We need higher education to be available for all but it must be far more vocationally supportive. Not all tertiary qualifications need to be uni degrees.
    Finance wise, above secondary education it shouldn't be free/cheap. Higher paid jobs come of it, making it affordable.

  • Comment number 3.

    We need to distinguish between qualifications & ability.
    As an Education Officer I watched successive governments raise school leaving age, always as a way of hiding unemployment statistics. Health & Safety legislation added demand for qualifications for everything, hence the burgeoning qualifications industry and qualifications for everything. Employers cannot distinguish between good & bad. It takes a further 5 years and costly university degrees to provide the same filtration that GCE/CSEs provided 2 generations ago.
    Not only is the financial cost of this apparent "success" enormous, so is the mental cost. Students leave education institutionalised, expecting good jobs that aren't available, initiative dead. Thus foreigners have become essential to our economy, successfully providing trades & services lacking from our too highly qualified graduates.
    We don't need more "education", we need less. Filtration should begin at school with those academically unsuited leaving well before 16, as soon as they can master the 4"Rs" of reading, writing, calculation & research, with the option of returning only at need. Few will.


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