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Is university worth it?

11:43 UK time, Thursday, 19 August 2010

Students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are receiving their A-level results, but despite record success many face disappointment over university places. Is a university degree necessary?

Some 660,000 students have applied to university this year, a 12% increase on last year's applications. Universities have more places on offer than in 2009 but numbers are capped and fewer places are available through "clearing". In Scotland, half of universities say courses are full.

Students at English and Welsh universities accumulate an average annual debt of between £5,000 and £6,000. In Scotland, where students do not pay tuition fees, average annual debt is under £3,000. Graduate unemployment has risen and there are concerns it could hit record levels due to planned public spending cuts.

Is a university degree necessary for success in later life? Are the costs of university now outweighing the benefits? Has having or not having a degree made any difference to your life?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

Comments

Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    The continued dumbing down of education has caused this. Best ever A level results published today! To my mind the best ever results have been achieved because the exams are getting easier. Make them harder and then those truly worthy of the grades will be easily identified.

    Curious to see how many people like me have encountered graduates who can just about count and try to write in text speak, who appear to have been given a degree simply for turning up once in a while.

    So, no i do not believe a degree is necessary for success in later life as it has been rendered worthless by being too easily attained.

  • Comment number 2.

    "Is a university degree necessary for success in later life?"

    Like everything else... that depends. If you want to be a hair-stylist then probably not. If you want to be a lawyer, doctor, molecular biologist or aeronautical engineer etc, then certainly.

    "Are the costs of university now outweighing the benefits?"

    Again that depends on the career you follow. If having a degree will get you that £50 pa job, then no, the costs do not outweigh the benefits.

    "Has having or not having a degree made any difference to your life? "

    I have a degree, and without it I couldn't have followed my career path, so in that sense it has made a difference. Whether I would have done as well in another career without a degree, who knows?

  • Comment number 3.

    The problem today is you need a degree just to get an interview for any job requiing slightly more intelligence than need to work in a burger bar.

    Most people do not realise that when you get your degree it effect on your job prospects only lasts five years on average. Then you are just another worker, with experience counting far more than qualifications.

    The lack of the career based development we used to have is definitly something we should not have abandoned.

    But there again, in todays working society, dominated as it is by bean-counting accountants, employers just will not pay for training.


  • Comment number 4.

    It depends what career you want. If you want to be an astrophysicist (sic?) then a degree in physics is likely to help a great deal, if you want to work in the media then a media degree will help not a jot, get an apprenticeship, become a runner or a PA, you will move through the ranks far quicker this way & save wasting 3 years & a lot of money on a useless piece of paper that will not be taken into consideration.
    For academics uni is great, for vocational qualifications you're far better studying at a specialist college or, if possible, getting some on the job experience & qualifications.

  • Comment number 5.

    Is a university degree necessary for success in later life? - Absolutely not. I started a degree in medicine under pressure from my parents when I finished my A-levels. I dropped out at 21 (2nd year) because I hated the subject, and couldnt afford the rental costs/train fare etc. At 22 I worked in an office as an "administrator" (photocopying, answering telephone). At 23 I moved to London and began studying an accounting qualification (CIMA). At 24, I am nearly qualified and my last job was on a salary of £32,000. I have since taken a fall in salary due to the recession, but I am still earning much more than most 24 year olds. The top end of the salary scale for an accountant is around £60-£70,000 p.a. but I plan to take a Masters in a specialist subject meaning I will likely branch into a specialism and exceed this.


    And Khuli - you do not need a traditional degree to practice as a solicitor.

  • Comment number 6.

    Are universities worth it?

    It depends if you can get a graduate job at the end of it.

    The current lack of uni places is a mirror to the fact that there are far more graduates than there are jobs for graduates.

    £25,000 just for a great life experience is a little on the pricey side.

    By the way, is there any chance the 'I-Hate-The-of-Today brigade can give it a rest with the 'ridiculously easy exams' and 'non-courses' today?

    There are a lot of kids who will be feeling stressed enough about their futures today, without some smug blogger telling them they're all rubbish.

  • Comment number 7.

    A university can be one of the best things that ever happens to a person. Note that I did not say young person. In my opinion university is wasted on teenagers. We should raise the entry age limit to UK HE to 21 so that students have some life experience, have worked for a while and are sure that the course they want is the right one. We should also charge full fees to students and charge a graduate tax up to the full amount "borrowed" to pay for their degree.

    I went to uni when I was 22 and graduated very highly in a subject that I was interested in and reflected my chosen career. I now work in a UK university and regularly meet students who have no interest and are just there because their "helicopter parents" insisted then "needed" a degree.

  • Comment number 8.

    A degree isn't necessary for the majority of jobs, if & only if the education system provides well educated pupils. But clearly this is not happening. A Level results have improved every year for the last 28 years, clearly they aren't teaching statistical probability any longer, the chances of this happening & standards being maintained are pretty low. So employers are having to rely on University, & its prohibitive costs, to weed out the school leavers who are riding a weak system.

  • Comment number 9.

    Is a university degree necessary for success in later life?

    No, but education is, and I feel ongoing education is...the government should allocated funds to all tax payers to enable them to undertake short and evening classes and allow us to top up to undertake more expensive programmes if we wish

    Are the costs of university now outweighing the benefits?

    The cost of having no university to a city, region or nation are astonishing. The benefits can be seen by looking at a city like Oxford that has one of the highest earnings per person of any UK city, and a really vibrant community life and has two excellent universities, both doing what they do best (one is research intensive and the other is one of the UK's best teaching universities)...the alternative...well does Grimsby have a university? (sorry Grimsby)


    Has having or not having a degree made any difference to your life?

    I have a degree and it has transformed my life. I have had so many opportunities open up for me because I studied a subject I love and I use those skills every day. It also helped me meet people with similar interests, similar educational aims and people from so many different cultures and backgrounds I now view everyone as individuals to be valued.

  • Comment number 10.

    Engineers, Chemists, scientists etc etc need the specific knowledge to do there job.
    Most other subjects don't really need a degree. THe trouble is that nowerdays you need a degree to be considered for virtually every post, which is absolutely ridiculous. I've had a very successful career in business but never needed a degree. I fail to see why it takes a complete degree course to equip someonf for life in the business world. Finance maybe but not generall business.
    Vocational on the job training is by far the best way to train people.
    With some of the degree equiped youngsters I've encountered, it would be helpful if they could spell and put a few sentences together.
    Everyones gone degee mad in this country.

  • Comment number 11.

    Yes it is worth it.

    If I hadn't gone to University I'd probably still be working as a sales assistant in dixons. University doesn't just teach you a subject, but what careers are availible to you and gives you drive and ambition.

  • Comment number 12.

    The quoted stat that someone with a degree earns £170k more in their lifetime needs a closer look.

    If it's an average, what does it proove? Unless you're comparing people equally intelligent at age 18, you can't say for certain what the effect of the degree was. If people with 3 A's at A level earn the same whether they go to Uni or not, all it shows it that brighter people on average earn more than less bright people.

    Besides, the stats must reflect the past when less people went to Uni. With the idiotic target of 50% going to Uni, how will they benefit when much less than 50% of jobs require Uni standard qualifications?

    Education for it's own sake is fine if you can afford it but I wonder if the country can?

  • Comment number 13.

    Depends what you want to do. You need post graduate qualifications for the career I have. My brother runs his own company, so he didn't need one.

    We are both successful in what we do.

    I met my wife at uni as well. So I’d say it was worth going.

  • Comment number 14.

    3 - "But there again, in todays working society, dominated as it is by bean-counting accountants, employers just will not pay for training."

    My firm sends me on training courses all the time. Same with my colleagues.

    I work for a firm of accountants. We don't count beans.

  • Comment number 15.

    Today, someone gaining a Damien, Desmund or a Richard has no value whatsoever compared to forty years ago.

  • Comment number 16.

    Too many jobs ask for qualifications which are not really a requirement, it is just used as a way of reducing the number of applicants. The post degree expectations raised in our youth are just not matched by the reality of todays working environment.

    The disparity between the English and Scottish students must be addressed ASAP - surely this is clear racial descrimination?

  • Comment number 17.

    I do not think that Universities are worth it in their current form. They used to be centres of excellence but are increasingly becoming centres of profit being fed inferior fodder.

    You do not need a degree to know that if higher grades at 'A' Level have suddenly boomed from 1990 onwards it is simply because standards have become lower and statistics have been manufactured. The students have not magically become three times as intelligent....quite the opposite from most things that I can see.

  • Comment number 18.

    Sorry but I just find it difficult to credit that every single year for the last 28 years pupils have been a little bit brighter than the year before.

    As for all the 'pupils work harder & teachers teach better' arguments, isn't that a bit insulting towards those teachers and pupils who came before? Do you think our teachers weren't any good or that we didn't work hard?

    Why do University lecturers and employers say that standards seem to have been falling over the years?

  • Comment number 19.

    Get a job before the millions of poor devils pouring out of university system hit the streets.

    One in 10 will be lucky to get what they want, unless you're 'connected' in some way.
    Britain is getting like our pre-WW2 society now:
    "it's not what you know, it's WHO you know"

    The system needs more skilled trades people anyway.

  • Comment number 20.

    University brings out all abilities, including incapability.

  • Comment number 21.

    University is a huge advantage if you need to acquire expertise to practise in a meaningful profession. It is much more difficult to find the necessary study-time if following the non-university route.
    It is absolutely essential that you have an Oxbridge degree if you want to manage those who have worked hard to gain professional proficiency in some dicipline or other; and almost essentially the Oxbridge degree should be in some subject that is of no use to man or beast e.g. classics.


  • Comment number 22.

    It is if you want to be a lawyer or a physicist etc.

    But there's no point in "hobby" degrees like photography....that's just keeping you off the dole list for 3 years and racking you up a nice big bill to pay.



  • Comment number 23.

    I don't see how my dossing around for 2 and half years before i actually bothered putting any effort into my studies qualified me for a graduate job, but apparently it does...

  • Comment number 24.

    Too may employers don't value degrees enough. I think often these employers are envious and feel threatened and intimidated by graduates. They seem to prefer to employ nice, docile and submissive people, not adventurous and curious graduates who constantly strive to learn, innovate and think laterally.

    There is a serious repression of talent in this country. It should not be possible to have too many graduates. We need a graduate revolution.

  • Comment number 25.

    Depends what you mean by "worth it"

    If you mean will you recover the cost, that would depend I guess on whether you achieve and make pregress is a proper graduate level job. Sadly they will be available to only a fraction of those we are jamming through university now to keep them off the unemployment register and save paying them benefits. So for some the answer is yes, for probably a majority, the answer is no.

    But I guess "worth it" might mean does it provide you with a memorable and enjoyable few years? Again the answer is sometimes yes, sometimes no. If you can get through the three years ( or more realistically 4 these days since a masters is becoming de rigour) without significant financial catastrophe, whilst finding the course interesting and challenging, whilst accumulating a great set of friends, and living in a decent place then indeed what could be better? You get more freedom than you've ever had, space from your family, time to enjoy the social aspects, ability to make, stand and fall by your own decisions. If you get all of this whats not to like? Sadly not everyone does, or if they do it becomes overshadowed by the prospect of finding work at the end.

    Personally I have no doubt whatesoever that without university my career would have been vastly different; that I'd never have achieved what I did and would never have been able to pass some of those benefits on to my family. Thats despite the fact that not every day was an unremitting joy, and that my course was handled a lot less interestingly and less intensively than it could have been. Fact is that in those days you needed a degree to establish candidature for fast tracked jobs at the best companies. Having a decent degree and being broadly cogent may not have guaranteed you success, but it made you a candidate. Today it seems that it gets you online application number 12346 and an opportunity to join the scrum with countless others with 3 A's and a 2(i), given that the education system lets candidates and employers alike down by not distinguishing between the talented and the middling.

  • Comment number 26.

    Oh great, here comes the 'Exams are getting easier!' crowd.. i would ask that these people actually try an exam and see how they get on..

    Univeristy is clearly worth it, or there would not as many people applying. A lot of jobs you cannot just walk into, many require university qualifications and the job experience that universities can provide through various schemes.

  • Comment number 27.

    My university education for Computing was a complete waste of time, I ended up self teaching myself towards the end. What I should have done was go on a computing course when I finished my A-Levels and then gotten a job like I ended up having to do after I finished my degree.

    By the way, when I say "computing course", I mean actual programming rather than being taught how to change the size of a font in Word or create a slide in Powerpoint.

  • Comment number 28.

    Its a mad situation, because yes you need to go to university to get a decent job when in many of them vocational training would be better than a degree.

    Thats what targets give you.

  • Comment number 29.

    Newspaper editors love this time of year.

    They can use the bogus 'are exams becoming easier' excuse of a non-story to publish lots of photographs of young girls in skimpy summer clothes.

    Do young men take 'A' levels? you wouldn't think so by reading the papers.



  • Comment number 30.

    Is a university degree necessary?

    Er... try asking a coherent question if you want a sensible answer.

    A university degree is not necessary in the same way as air, food and water are. You can live a happy and fulfilled life without a university degree, you won't survive five minutes without air to breathe.

    If you want to be a medical doctor, a university degree is necessary for you to attain your ambition. (Note for aspiring medics: you also need air to breathe!)

    If you want to learn how to learn and how to think, to explore a subject of interest to its fullest extent... well, you can acquire these skills elsewhere, but a university degree is a good way to set your feet on the right track. Oh, and you still need air to breathe.

    Define 'necessary' and you might be able to answer your question for yourself. Trouble is, I learned how to craft such debate by, er, going to university. Oh, and I still need air to breathe too!

  • Comment number 31.

    Higher education should be free for all. fee paying schools such as Eton should be abolished there should never be a tiered education system. You either educate or not and no half hearted measures we owe this to further generations to ensure that they have the most important tool fully exercised and able to make rational choices based on facts and not irrational judgements based on propaganda and fear.

    Knowledge is power- free knowledge is freedom from oppressive power.

  • Comment number 32.

    I almost didn't bother reading this thread because, as a student, I couldn't be bothered with all the "drunken students", "youth of today", "back in my day" ranting that always surrounds these topics. I'm sure these comments will flow shortly.
    I'm about to go into my final year at university, and I work very very hard. This applies to studying and also to the work I do related to my course - I work around 30 hours a week at two different jobs at the same time as studying, and this summer I'm doing a full time internship as well. I don't have time for the "student lifestyle". I believe that university is what you make of it, like many things in life. Turning up and doing well in assessed work is not enough to secure you a job these days. There are many students who do not seek out opportunities to increase their learning and experience whilst at university, but a lot of us do.
    I admit though, that I have come across a large number of students at university with little or no direction, who are just there because it has become the norm after school. University isn't for everyone, and although other posters are correct to say that it depends what career you want to follow, how many people actually know the answer to this aged 17?

  • Comment number 33.

    It depends on the type of work you want to do i am starting in sept and for a social worker i need a degree to practice. I do think some courses really don't need to be a degree. I can't believe they have a degree course on harry potter that is just stupid.

  • Comment number 34.

    Unfortunately for some parents their child getting to University is now more of a social necessity than a realistic and sensible choice.

    This has been exaberbated by the teaching profession encouraged by the previous governmenmt.

    This leaves millions of teenagers without proper careers advice on the alternatives of which there are numerous.

    A Btec course for example can lead to University by a different route but how many parents are being told this and how many schools are really interested in finding out.

    From my own family some go to university others went straight into work at 17 and all fortunately have found or will find their own route into decent jobs or in some cases their own business.

    It is time to stop this one route will fit all attitude which leaves thousands of youngsters left feeling worthless if they don't want or feel committed to going to University.

  • Comment number 35.

    I would just like to add to my comment that I do not think degrees are getting easier. Or more difficult. Degrees are degrees and the fundamental structure of them has not changed - they still exist to give you an indepth understanding of your chosen area of expertise, albeit an indepth understanding that can just as easily be gained in the workplace at a fraction of the cost (for most subjects)...

  • Comment number 36.

    19. At 1:09pm on 19 Aug 2010, ady wrote:

    "Britain is getting like our pre-WW2 society now: it's not what you know, it's WHO you know"


    The problem for employers is with so many school/university leavers attaining high grades, what other basis can they use for choosing an employee?

    Personally, I think it would be better to limit the number of A grades to the top 5% of students. It would be fairer to students, universities and employers.

  • Comment number 37.

    #6. Nok wrote

    “By the way, is there any chance the 'I-Hate-The-of-Today brigade can give it a rest with the 'ridiculously easy exams' and 'non-courses' today?”

    Something is definitely odd though you have to concede. It just doesn't wash that kids of today are 5 times as clever as kids in the 1970s for example.

    “There are a lot of kids who will be feeling stressed enough about their futures today, without some smug blogger telling them they're all rubbish.”

    No one is saying that, but record results for the 28th year in succession raise eyebrows unless yours are invisible through being buried in sand. Kids taking A levels need as much credit as anyone can give them.

  • Comment number 38.

    At this rate soon nearly everyone will get 'A's and it will be only a question if it is a 1 to 5 star 'A'.

    Uni ??

    Anyone who goes to uni and gets a first-class degree has wasted their time, anyone who gets a second-class degree only gets confirmed their average, anyone who gets a third-class degree at least gets something out of mucking about for four+ years.

    Can be expensive though. Make sure you qualify for grants/bursaries etc.
    Or, do it part-time.

  • Comment number 39.

    30. At 1:30pm on 19 Aug 2010, Megan wrote:

    Is a university degree necessary?

    Er... try asking a coherent question if you want a sensible answer.

    A university degree is not necessary in the same way as air, food and water are. You can live a happy and fulfilled life without a university degree, you won't survive five minutes without air to breathe.

    If you want to be a medical doctor, a university degree is necessary for you to attain your ambition. (Note for aspiring medics: you also need air to breathe!)

    If you want to learn how to learn and how to think, to explore a subject of interest to its fullest extent... well, you can acquire these skills elsewhere, but a university degree is a good way to set your feet on the right track. Oh, and you still need air to breathe.

    Define 'necessary' and you might be able to answer your question for yourself. Trouble is, I learned how to craft such debate by, er, going to university. Oh, and I still need air to breathe too!


    What was your degree in - arrogance?

  • Comment number 40.

    The BBC have dodged the 'big picture' issue here?

    How many British students are being displaced this year at University/college by foreign students?

    Not a single word on this by the BBC as the BBC are part of the conspiracy to back-stab our British born children in terms of their birthright of being offered a place at British Universities ... before any single foreigner get's offered a place.

    In a word ... 'disgraceful' ... BBC ... this is disgraceful

  • Comment number 41.

    As always, degrees will be sorted out by commerce. A degree (of whatever value) from the former Xxxx Tech will be of little or no value to the firm which primarily recruits from a redbrick or Russell Group university.

    The University fees/debts of around £30,000 ensure a compliant workforce. How very easily students have accepted these absurd figures ... where were the Students' Unions when these amounts were being calculated? Selling insurance and holidays like other Unions?

    There was a time when you could go into a pub and listen to students argue philosophy ... now we're treated to who uses the latest gadgetry!

    What suckers these 'uni' students have become ... and many can barely spell!

  • Comment number 42.

    WOW!!! The next phase in NEW LABOUR's A prize for everbody ...IS? WAIT FOR IT The new "A" Level Bsc and BA , THEN make ALL universities an annex of OXFORD and CAMBRIDGE !!!

    Then the Degree will be obsolete !! OK so any old degree might be ok if you want to work in the public sector , but the rest require good honest verifiable degrees ...Or the replacement qualification.

    With present the cost of a Degree ,many in the education sector are looking to create a standard of excellence Degree.. privately funded
    the more the New Labour policy continues .the more likely the private sector degree... Providing that the quality is there, then industry WILL accept it over the present degree....

    So is a Degree important? ...NO!

    Is a good education important ...absolute YES

    ONE has to consider if the Labour Party desire to increase university numbers was merely to keep unemployment down in Secondary leavers. Is it just another Self financing "smoke and mirrors" Labour con.

  • Comment number 43.

    Of course, there are a number of professional careers for which a specific university degree is the basic essential qualification. Medicine and Dentistry are obvious examples, but there's also another very important factor in intensive academic study - the development of high-grade reasoning and critical skills.
    A friend read French at Oxford, and eventually went on to head the European research team of a leading City investment bank. Of course the French helped, as did the Oxon by his degree, but it was his ability to recognise the essential elements of a problem, organise his thoughts and make clear decisions, that were his strengths, that made him highly-employable.

  • Comment number 44.

    unless you do an applied subject, such as engineering, maths,science,medicine etc then yes uni is very worthwhile as you require this to do the job.

    we see a lot of graduates looking for work in my company, they role in with degrees in sociology and expect a business type role earning £30 k per year, needles to say we sometimes offer the going rate of say £15k for an admin job because they have no relevant experience. Just by going to uni doesnt entitle anyone to a step up the ladder

  • Comment number 45.

    Londoner727475 wrote:

    "Is a university degree necessary for success in later life? - Absolutely not."

    And then went on to say:

    "but I plan to take a Masters in a specialist subject [to increase my salary]"

    A Masters, eh? That would be a university degree, wouldn't it?

  • Comment number 46.

    "Define 'necessary' and you might be able to answer your question for yourself. Trouble is, I learned how to craft such debate by, er, going to university. Oh, and I still need air to breathe too!!"

    "What was your degree in - arrogance?"

    No, I think it was Pomposity. Probably got a First in it.

  • Comment number 47.

    Is University worth it? Discuss:

    Worth what? To flex the cranial muscles, if it achieves that, then all to the good.

    If one embarks on higher education purely for the status (whatever that might mean) or to provide physical security, then forget it. To survive in this world one needs to be flexible and tolerant. Higher education today, it appears to me, is a recipe for the very opposite.

  • Comment number 48.

    I'm not sure I can say university is worth it, or at least, that the degrees obtained are worthwhile. I achieved the top grades possible in all my GCSEs and A-Levels, but still couldn't get a place at Oxbridge, although fellow students who achieved B-grades did go there. The degree I finally obtained took next to no work - all coursework and revision was done the night before deadline/exam, sometimes using books I was opening for the first time. And what grade did I get? I was awarded a 2.1. For that. Hardly an indication of my work level...

  • Comment number 49.

    40. At 1:42pm on 19 Aug 2010, nautonier wrote:
    "The BBC have dodged the 'big picture' issue here?

    How many British students are being displaced this year at University/college by foreign students?"

    I don't know, "nautonier", how many? Give us some figures. Or is it simply that you just can't help having a nasty racist little rant, whatever the subject? Hmm?

  • Comment number 50.

    "5. At 12:48pm on 19 Aug 2010, Londoner727475 wrote:
    And Khuli - you do not need a traditional degree to practice as a solicitor."


    Fair point. I guess when I said lawyer, I was thinking more of barristers than solicitors.

  • Comment number 51.

    The demise of educational standards was ensured when grammar schools were disbanded and reduced to 'one-size-fits-all' comprehensives. Many school pupils are not academically inclined and would benefit far more from a vocational education than an academic one, and I see no reason why this shouldn't be determined by examination.

    Because pupils are educated solely with the aim of pushing them on into university, the current drive to send as many people as possible to university is wrong, and will continue to be wrong until the insanity of it all is accepted. Turning vocational colleges into faux universities was another calamity. What good is a degree in any subject when a graduate can't tell the difference between 'there', 'their', and 'they're'? What good is a degree if people don't learn to proof-read what they've written before posting it?

    I've never had a degree, but I did have a grammar school education and I've done all right, thank you very much! In that time I've worked in companies where graduates have been employed and seen that although they know their particular subject well, they appear totally devoid of common sense, and ignorant of any principles of man-management. A degree is no guarantee against stupidity.

  • Comment number 52.

    It depends on your desired occupation. Most jobs shouldn't require a degree, but increasingly what can be considered "ordinary" jobs do ask for one. Why, for example, does a call centre manager need a degree? The simple fact is that the previous Government pushed young people through the University door in order to ensure they didn't show on the unemployment figures. Ultimately what employers want - and need - are people who can perform basic tasks, are literate, numerate and articulate. A lot of graduates are none of these because the type of recreational degrees on offer do not focus on these elements.

  • Comment number 53.

    40. At 1:42pm on 19 Aug 2010, nautonier wrote:

    The BBC have dodged the 'big picture' issue here?

    How many British students are being displaced this year at University/college by foreign students?

    Not a single word on this by the BBC as the BBC are part of the conspiracy to back-stab our British born children in terms of their birthright of being offered a place at British Universities ... before any single foreigner get's offered a place.

    In a word ... 'disgraceful' ... BBC ... this is disgraceful


    Details can be found on this BBC web page.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/8588779.stm

  • Comment number 54.

    5. At 12:48pm on 19 Aug 2010, Londoner727475 wrote:
    Is a university degree necessary for success in later life? - Absolutely not.......

    ......but I plan to take a Masters in a specialist subject .......

    A Masters what Londoner727475 - degree by any chance? And where will you go to get that I wonder!!

    Oh and by the way a Masters is a 'post graduate' qualification. Most Masters courses (run by - guess what - Universities) require a degree to even get on them in the first place - hence the title 'post graduate' qualification.

    Good luck is all I can say to that one!

  • Comment number 55.

    Yes we still need qualifications to get a good job...but I recall that BBC Look North in Sheffield a few years back interviewing a Dustman who had a wonderful Degree in Economics...and with that he couldn't find the type of work he had been educated to do...What a waste...

  • Comment number 56.

    I can remember in my apprenticeship days, studying for my HND in Mechanical Engineering. A group of Uni students paid a visit to our company, the most advanced in CNC and robotics at the time. I was setting a machine up when one of these students asked "what's it like to be a machine minder", I just replied "£18,000 a year more than you get". That was 30 years ago. The skills I have gained over the years far outweigh a Degree, but sadly this side of work is long gone and the only option left is to wave bits of paper at potential employers in the hope of a job. I agree some jobs demand a degree because of the nature of the job, but a high % on the market can be trained while working.

  • Comment number 57.

    Kids, don't listen to all the negative claptrap you'll hear on the news today. Despite what many think, A Levels are NOT easy, and I am sure you have all worked very hard and tried your best. I would love to put some of these people through the exams and courses themselves.

    Is university worth it? Well, I hope so. We must realise though that it isn't for everyone, no matter how bright people are. There need to be other options.

    I have struggled with university, nearly dropping out and like loladelorean above, I work incredibly hard at uni. I don't succumb to the 'typical student' lifestyle and am about to start an entirely unpaid placement year, working full time and am hoping I'll find some paid work around that. Since it seems that employers want experience over a degree, I'm glad I am studying for a 'sandwich' degree. I have also learnt 'life skills'... fending for myself and renting a place to live in, keeping a relationship going whilst we both study to try and better ourselves.

    If it was possible to get into teaching without a degree, I would have probably chosen that route. But it doesn't exist. So I chose a relevant science degree that I knew would interest me. The debt makes me panic; my £3000+ per year tuition fees get me a few powerpoint presentations a week, so I end up teaching myself. Neuroscience, statistics and child development are not easy subjects to teach yourself.

    All the same, stop bashing these kids who are trying their best. At least they are doing something with their lives instead of wallowing around on their backsides on the dole.

  • Comment number 58.

    Is it worth the money to have a few years partying away from home with like minded people, I don't think so.

  • Comment number 59.

    45. - I think a fool could see I was referring to a Bachelor's. But even so, a £60-70,000 salary is attainable with no degree as per my first comment. I consider that kind of salary a success (unless you have a different definition?). I am persuing a Master's to specialise in the subject (ie I have a passion for it). With this will come an increased salary, as an aside. But no, an increase in salary is not my driving factor for pursuing a MSc - I dont think it should ever be.

  • Comment number 60.

    "40. At 1:42pm on 19 Aug 2010, nautonier wrote:
    The BBC have dodged the 'big picture' issue here?

    How many British students are being displaced this year at University/college by foreign students?"

    I think the figure is 15% overseas students. They pay full fees too.

    Nautonier, what's your view on British students who study abroad? Presumably your opposed to that as well?

  • Comment number 61.

    "Too may employers don't value degrees enough. I think often these employers are envious and feel threatened and intimidated by graduates. They seem to prefer to employ nice, docile and submissive people, not adventurous and curious graduates who constantly strive to learn, innovate and think laterally."

    Actually they prefer to employ people who will follow instruction, listen to the people giving them instruction and produce the Widget the company sells so that all of them can get paid, because what you call innovation and lateral thinking, they call daydreaming & staring out the window.

    "If you want to learn how to learn and how to think, to explore a subject of interest to its fullest extent... well, you can acquire these skills elsewhere, but a university degree is a good way to set your feet on the right track. Oh, and you still need air to breathe."

    You're supposed to have learnt how to learn and how to think BEFORE you get to University, just like you should have learnt the alphabet and how to count BEFORE you go to primary school. The problem is that the whole system is trying to play 'catch up' from the start. You shouldn't be starting 1st Year Engineering without some basic Maths.

    "Define 'necessary' and you might be able to answer your question for yourself. Trouble is, I learned how to craft such debate by, er, going to university"
    Your constant repetition of how necessary air is to breathing is hardly what I would call "crafted debate". And I learnt debating at Secondary School BTW

  • Comment number 62.

    54 - I have a written offer from LSE for MSc Finance - I will persue it in maybe 2 years or so. You can see other such courses on the website or by telephoning. Please do your research. You do not, I repeat NOT, need a foundation degree to do a masters in Finance/Economics/Accounting if you have relevant experience.

  • Comment number 63.

    University was designed for the top brains only. Not for half the population just to keep them off the unemployment figures.

    We need to go back to that situation and teach the others trades - we are crying out for plasterers, electricians and plumbers and are importing them from Eastern Europe becasue these jobs are not considered glamorous.

    A word to today's youth - work is not glamorous and it was never meant to be. It is about providing services that are in demand - so you're going to have to live with that principle or. The rest of us can't afford to educate you indefinitely or pay you benefits.

  • Comment number 64.

    As a university student, I strongly hold the view that a university education is important if you want to get anywhere in today's world (with a few exceptions of course). However in recent years, the quality and respect for a university degree has been undermined by the dumbing down of courses etc.

    Nevertheless I really believe that going to university gives you the opportunity to experience new things, meet new people from a diverse range of backgrounds, learn something & have fun! I'm really glad I went to university and would strongly encourage other young people to do so.

  • Comment number 65.

    Its a total disaster.
    In the old days a degree meant something.
    A current degree has no relation to the degrees awarded 30 years ago.
    But now everyone has a worthless degree that costs 20 grand to get.
    Since degrees are now so commonplace, if you don't have one you'll be competing against someone that has one even for a crappy job.
    John Major was the guy that made all the polys and colleges into universities. That was the start of the rot.

  • Comment number 66.

    University attendance is surely only worth it if the student gains the necessary qualification to enable them to pursue the career of their choice. And as far as the ever increasing numbers of high grade A level passes year on year are concerned, why don't the universities have a straightforward entrance exam in any event covering literacy and numeracy (without calculators-these students are the creme de la creme no?) but with a bias appropriate to the course being applied for? That could prove revealing.

  • Comment number 67.

    64. At 2:20pm on 19 Aug 2010, Samir wrote:

    "Nevertheless I really believe that going to university gives you the opportunity to experience new things, meet new people from a diverse range of backgrounds, learn something & have fun! I'm really glad I went to university and would strongly encourage other young people to do so."


    If that's what's important, why not just join the armed forces?

  • Comment number 68.

    It's a great place to meet young, clever (not all) women.

  • Comment number 69.

    Londoner727475 wrote:

    "Is a university degree necessary for success in later life? - Absolutely not. I started a degree in medicine under pressure from my parents when I finished my A-levels. I dropped out at 21 (2nd year) because I hated the subject,.......At 24, I am nearly qualified and my last job was on a salary of £32,000. I have since taken a fall in salary due to the recession, but I am still earning much more than most 24 year olds. The top end of the salary scale for an accountant is around £60-£70,000 p.a."

    Fair enough Londoner727475, the medical course was not for you. But one day you will rely on someone who completed their course to save the life of a loved one. Degrees are not essential for everyone, and are not to everyone's taste, but it is important for society to educate enough people to fill the important roles that we need - whether that is imparted via a degree or via a vocational route. Let us not just judge people on what they earn, but what their skills genuinely contribute to society!

  • Comment number 70.

    To those who whine that A Levels have gotten easier…

    World records are broken in every Olympics. Does this means that it’s getting easier to break world records? No, in fact it’s harder as you have to overcome more. Just like with the Olympics, A level grades get better because the competitors work harder than those before, because they have to achieve more than those before them to succeed.
    Luckily the need to do better is augmented by advancements in education to aid students in their studies (Just as Olympic athletes use better training tools and coaching than what previous competitors were content with).

    Just because their success reveals your inadequacies and lack of commitment to your own education (Which I’m sure at the time appeared to be relatively good). Frankly compensating your bruised egos is no excuse for your pathetic attempts to demean their efforts and well earned success. Grow up.

  • Comment number 71.

    31. At 1:31pm on 19 Aug 2010, th3_0r4cl3 wrote:
    fee paying schools such as Eton should be abolished there should never be a tiered education system

    Why shouldn't people be able to spend their own money in whatever they please?

  • Comment number 72.

    Here we are in the deepest financial mess this country has faced.Whilst everything is going to be cut.The wonderland of education is hardly being touched.Has it escaped most peoples minds that all the systems that led us into this mess are rife with ex- university graduates.Polititians Bankers Higher Civil Servants.On top of that we have the legal profession slick Lawyers dopy Judges.Teachers with so many boxes to tick thought up by the non job section of our education system.Billions wasted on mickey mouse subjects.If an audit was done to find out how many students are taking subjects that would benefit this country and themselves.The waste of drop outs we could save billions.Yes other countries do have a large amounts of their young people going to universities as we should.They unlike us have a view of the real world.Whilst the polititians and leaders of our education system still live in the dreamy spires of OXFORD.

  • Comment number 73.

    Nope! But, there again who pays for it otherwise? Big business isn't interested until the Graduates have graduated. So, who will fork out the billions to educate them all. Lets be honest the Universities are full of foreign students so no point investing in them because our children don't get the full use of them. So, it's up to parents to foot the bill. If you don't have parents or parents who'll help out. then Tuff! If you don't have the monies Tuff. This is all about the rich anyway!

  • Comment number 74.

    In my opinion, ANY degree was worth something upto 1998, but since around 2003, the only degrees worth having are those that remain compulsory for specific careers; medicine, nursing, social work, physio, OT, law etc.


  • Comment number 75.

    Although I congratulate all A Level candidates, there is no doubt the A Level you get today is far removed from that which I had to earn in the 70s. A grades were rare and this does not mean we were less intelligent.

    This clammer for a university place is a result of Labour telling us that without a degree you are nothing. So the A Level was devalued and everyone went to university, reason was to massage the unemployment figures. We need to return to a system where a professional qualification is best attainable without going to university with an apprenticeship. Former articled clerk.

  • Comment number 76.

    @ Poster #1

    Way to go there buddy! Undermind all the hard work that those students did! One of my brothers friends received all A's in her 4 A-levels, and is now studying physics. She is probably one of the smartest people i know, including teachers, parents, friends. So rather than belittle someones achievements try and celebrate in their triumph.

    As to the question asked.

    A degree's usefulness depends on what it is. A degree in drama i think is pointless and those 3 years would have been better spent at a specialised college with the contacts to help you into that buisness. But i wonder how many of you would happily see a doctor who has no degree?

  • Comment number 77.

    Now that our education system has become a political football.It can only go one way south.If any proof is needed look at our other public services.

  • Comment number 78.

    57. At 2:09pm on 19 Aug 2010, HBMoose wrote:
    Kids, don't listen to all the negative claptrap you'll hear on the news today. Despite what many think, A Levels are NOT easy, and I am sure you have all worked very hard and tried your best. I would love to put some of these people through the exams and courses themselves.
    .........................................................................

    Whilst I applaude your sentiment, and wish the kids well, this is a mess. The whole point of grades is to differentiate, however as nearly everyone is getting the top grade how can we do that?

    This is not the fault of the kids, but the education policy whereby no one was allowed to fail. Thus many school leavers have un-realistic expectations based on their abilities. Something needs to change as the previous governments policy is proving a diaster. Whats the point of having a degree when the only challenge faced in life will be working the till at McDonalds?

    As for actually doing it myself, I completed a degree course last year - not as a requirement for my job, but because the professional body to which I belong changed their membership rules!

  • Comment number 79.

    Certainly not required today. If nearly 50% of the junior population are hoping for a degree there are not enough vacancies to cater for them all. All that results is previously advertised jobs will need higher qualifications when they were unnecessary before.

    The education route is a dampener on entenprenaurship and many self made millionaires do not have degrees.

    Why can't the government run courses that improve self esteem, lateral thinking, and improve the creative side of an individual. No entrance qualifications would be necessary, just the will to succeed.

  • Comment number 80.

    @Ron Hutch

    Wow it is hard to follow your writing. You may want to learn to use punctuation whilst up there on your high horse. So you blame graduates for the economic crisis? Ahh lumping everyone together, how terribly nice of you. So the doctors that work endlessly to help the community, such terrible people i assume? Although the main point is, the people that caused this crisis didn't do this because they were educated, it was out of greed.

  • Comment number 81.

    "Number 21. : I ended up self teaching myself towards the end"

    Of course, it should be: "independent learning" but as that is one of the transferable skills that a good university should give I would say you at least got something out of your course, if not grammatical precision ;)

  • Comment number 82.

    14. At 1:02pm on 19 Aug 2010, AndyC555 wrote:

    I work for a firm of accountants. We don't count beans.

    ###########################################################

    Then what exactly do you do?

    Me thinks you protest too much.





  • Comment number 83.

    31. At 1:31pm on 19 Aug 2010, th3_0r4cl3 wrote:

    Higher education should be free for all. fee paying schools such as Eton should be abolished there should never be a tiered education system. You either educate or not and no half hearted measures we owe this to further generations to ensure that they have the most important tool fully exercised and able to make rational choices based on facts and not irrational judgements based on propaganda and fear.

    Knowledge is power- free knowledge is freedom from oppressive power.


    Wealthy people would just send their children abroad to get a better education.

  • Comment number 84.

    Is being put in the army and sent out to die or come back without your health worth it? We do not question that do we we can get in the forces without much problem especailly the army. Does everyone want to go to university No and many will go and not make it and then what look at the ex students who run this country you do wonder if going to university is worth it? How many will get to go to the top places were they learn never to mature but become leaders of a country what good did the Bullingdon Club do ? its not what you know but who you know. When the USA wanted more cannon fodder for Vietnam it took it from the university campus those who did not pass the muster like Cameron and co and shipped them out to die, now we have Iran on the cards. How many passed their degree in WMD?

  • Comment number 85.

    70. At 2:28pm on 19 Aug 2010, thesilentpsycho wrote:
    To those who whine that A Levels have gotten easier…

    World records are broken in every Olympics. Does this means that it’s getting easier to break world records?
    .........................................................................

    No, it means the bio-chemists are getting better at hiding their products!

  • Comment number 86.

    63. At 2:17pm on 19 Aug 2010, chiptheduck wrote:

    University was designed for the top brains only. Not for half the population just to keep them off the unemployment figures.

    We need to go back to that situation and teach the others trades - we are crying out for plasterers, electricians and plumbers and are importing them from Eastern Europe becasue these jobs are not considered glamorous.

    A word to today's youth - work is not glamorous and it was never meant to be. It is about providing services that are in demand - so you're going to have to live with that principle or. The rest of us can't afford to educate you indefinitely or pay you benefits.

    -------------------------------

    I disagree. Work is glamerous if it is something you enjoy doing. Unfortunately the 4 letter word is associated with bad, dull, boring and something your forced to do to live.

    I am lucky to have found a career I enjoy but I have found other things I would have loved more but I hadnt tried them or even knew how to get into them.

    I would love to work in the security industry or as a locksmith but as these are not generally introduced to kids I chose something else. As a result I am very happy with my job, enjoy the work and will stick with it as long as the industry allows. But on the side I keep my interest in the other choices I may have made.

    A dustbin collector can consider their job glamerous if they enjoy it.

  • Comment number 87.

    I left school in the 1974 with no qualifications and have not done too badly for myself.

    HOWEVER that was then, now people seem to think that unless you have reams of qualifications you are not fit to sweep the roads, if I have learnt one thing over the years it is that paper qualifications are of far less use than hands-on experience. I have had to go back to school to get qualifications and those pieces of paper were enough to persuade HR personnel to allow me to talk to the people who were competent enough to assess my skills. Once past the HR Vetter’s qualifications become virtually irrelevant, experience counts.

    Another thing that I have learnt is that University graduates have plenty of brains but no common-sense, while many eventually learn that not all of their ideas will work there are too many who look at their elaborate plans and schemes and are unable to grasp simple facts like we do not have people/money/skills/time to implement something that is not really anything to do with what we are trying to achieve.

  • Comment number 88.

    With the increases in cost under the Labour government, it's not really worth it anymore. Also, Labour encouraging everyone to get degrees has devalued them massively. Students now will be left with a £30K+ debt, that most will never repay.

    On the other hand, there's no jobs anymore, so you may as well go.

  • Comment number 89.

    Number 40: "The BBC have dodged the 'big picture' issue here?

    How many British students are being displaced this year at University/college by foreign students?

    Not a single word on this by the BBC as the BBC are part of the conspiracy to back-stab our British born children in terms of their birthright of being offered a place at British Universities ... before any single foreigner get's offered a place.

    In a word ... 'disgraceful' ... BBC ... this is disgraceful"


    None - International places are unfunded and as such not open to European students. The tax payer does not foot the bill for these students. Having international students on campus is a great opportunity for the internationally minded UK students to find out about other cultures and ways of doing things...so don't worry, your taxes are not going to Johnny Foreigner at all...unless you count all the money we are wasting in international police actions, or paying to repatriate our glorious football fans from foreign climes...etc ;)

  • Comment number 90.

    University is only worth it if that is what you want in life. If you are academically inclined then university is the route for you. However if you are practically minded then university is not the right place. Nursing, mechanical engineering, plumbing, electricians, hairdressing, shop work, care industry, gardening, house building, catering, woodworking, factory work, road maintenance, refuse and recycling workers, train drivers, pilots, bus drivers, diving instructors, driving instructors, actors, dancers, singers etc etc., these are areas that need predominently hands-on training and they never need to see the inside of a university at all. It used to be day release to a technical college or polytechnique to learn the bits of academic work and then it was study in your own time and learn from others and by doing it yourself whilst you were at work. Now employers do not want to pay wages to apprentices and expect people to leave university fully trained and experienced and paid for by someone else!!!

  • Comment number 91.

    As an employer I would say it's only worth it if you get a fisrt class degree. Over the last 10 to 15 years we have seen a huge drop in standards of the degree qualified applicants in our industry (computer science). It has reached the point that we really don't consider anyone without a first class degree as having a degree. We are seeing applicants with seconds and thirds who can barely communicate, can't spell or manage basic arithmetic and have little more knowledge of their subject than gifted amateurs. So, yes, go to university but do so in the knowledge that if you want your degree to count for anything when you finish you had better work very hard a give employers something to differentiate between you and the other 50 applicants. The big pitfall of getting virtually everyone into university now is that when everyone has a degree it becomes meaningless. One more little gem of advice, psychology, media studies, sociology are not called the Free Degrees for nothing. If you're not sure where your future career lies don't pick one that's good for nothing, pick one tha's good for something. A real degree in a challenging subject can differentiate you even if it's not exactly in the area of work you eventually choose.

    Here's a list of degrees which will leave you amply qualified for the dole queue:

    Law, unless you get a first and have the dosh to get a practice certificate later. There is a huge glut of unemployed Law graduates still looking for jobs and placements years after qualifying.

    BEd, unless you want to be a teacher as it's has near zero value outside that area of work.

    Psychology, because the last 5 years of psychology graduates are still looking for a job. Most are still wondering what the hell job they are ever going to do with a psychology degree.

    Sociology, let's face it, you only have to turn up and every employer knows it.

    Media Studies, a generally accepted Rupert and Tarquin degree. Ideal for when mummy and daddy realise your a bit thick but still reckon you need some degree at least.

  • Comment number 92.

    82. At 2:44pm on 19 Aug 2010, JohnH wrote:
    14. At 1:02pm on 19 Aug 2010, AndyC555 wrote:

    I work for a firm of accountants. We don't count beans.

    ###########################################################

    Then what exactly do you do?

    Me thinks you protest too much.
    .........................................................................

    He must be on the paperclips, not experienced enough for beans yet!

  • Comment number 93.

    Well, I left school with A Levels just before the "winter of discontent". I wanted a professional qualification, I wrote after six jobs, I got six interviews and four offers of employment with training. Three years later jobs were scarce, we were in the 3 day week. Yes, I made the right decision. I have never regretted missing the booze up at uni.

  • Comment number 94.

    The only dumbing down is the dumb acceptance that you could sit down and take an A level now and find it easy, or even easier, than if you took yours ten or twenty or more years ago. It's one of the great urban myths of our time. Society, knowledge, culture, education, qualifications and exams ALL change; they have to. Not one serious comparative study has ever shown a shred of evidence for it. And yes a university education is worth it. Many non-graduates find their prospects and earnings hit a ceiling. All learning adds value. It needn't be a degree, but it's still market leader.

  • Comment number 95.

    For so many it is both true and a shame that University is a passport to mediocraty. Many students these days are completely unaware they live on the plant Earth never mind the detail. And communicate they cannot.
    The prerequisite for a successful career is to know your own, or your employers business, know how profit is delivered and cash flow maintained, have an ability to think clearly, communicate simply and effectively, ("I replied" instead of "Eyes like" or "I went") would be good and above all use common sense, avoid political correctness and avoid the liberal minded. Marry all that in with good decision making and you will be MD with a degree or not !

  • Comment number 96.

    A message to all would be graduates. Please, pretty please, learn to write a CV before you apply for a job. My waste paper bin is full of rubbish (no I cannot call them CVs)penned by graduates who do not know what potential employers want to read.

  • Comment number 97.

    Further to my comments at post 74, as someone who taught in FE (A levels and BTECS etc), over a seven year period up to 2008, I am afraid I did see progressive reductions in pass requirements, along with increasing tolerance of bad spelling and grammar as dictated by awarding bodies. I became convinced FE was no longer the right grounding for HE.

    To balance this can I say well done to all who achieved what you did, you can only pass what is in front of you.

  • Comment number 98.

    Is university worth it?

    If everything was set out to help individuals make the most of their potential then yes.

    Unfortunately for some who have a disability where the handicap outweighs the advantages of the qualification (and their capabilities) it can be used to exclude them from getting the support they need which is more available to less qualified disabled people especially when experiencing prejudice.

    Although cured of my disability now I never got any worthwhile job when I had a degree and was disabled. I was refused support because I was over qualified and told “Think yourself lucky” when I was left isolated and there was support available to unqualified disabled people who some got better jobs. If I had remained disabled I probably wouldn’t have got where I am now as it would have continued to be used to deny me support and intensified the prejudice I experienced many years ago. But having been cured of my disability it has finally been put to use.

    So it is not always worth having a degree when a handicap outweighs its advantages as it can be used to exclude you from getting the support you need, especially if you are considered overqualified and help is available to the under qualified.

  • Comment number 99.

    Do we have to have this question on HYS EVERY year BBC?

    Yes, Uni is worth it if you are doing a degree in subjects like Maths, Business or Science, that have a variety of applications for careers post uni. However, if you are doing golf course management, or other such subject that would be better as an apprenticeship, then no, university is not worth the debt - although your life experience will be greatly enhanced.

  • Comment number 100.

    On the day exam results where published an expert commented that 50% of future jobs will require a degree, so the 2500 jobs that "Poundland" announced will require a degree?, perhaps a degree in maths will be needed to work in "Poundland". so if I bought 3 seperate items in Poundland how much will it cost me> (only degree applicants can apply).

 

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