With some universities offering applicants £10,000 to defer due to a record number of people applying, this article will look at the pros and cons of that step into higher education.
For a while, it felt like the only path available to young people after 11 years in the education system, was another three or four years spent at university, chasing down a degree. University has long been promoted as the only way a person will achieve success in the future leading to more and more teenagers studying hard for them all important A-level grades. The pandemic may have changed the game somewhat yet the pressure surrounding those results remained the same, higher even as these young adults were even more desperate to succeed despite the damaging disruption the pandemic has had on their education. Their hard work paid off as the top grades for A-level results in England, Wales and Northern Ireland reached a record high with 44.8% achieving A* or A grades. While this is fantastic news for those who sat those exams, it presents a problem for universities. A BBC article explains:
‘With more top grades and record numbers applying for university, it will put pressure on places for the most competitive universities and courses. This is likely to be most acute for medicine courses – and students asked to change to another medical school because of a lack of spaces will be offered £10,000 as an incentive.’ (Coughlan, et al., 2021)
With universities asking applicants to reconsider their choices or even defer for a year, the question on everyone’s mind is whether university still holds that grip over the public. Do you really need to go to university in 2021? Here’s a list of pros and cons on the question:
Independence at last!
For many, going to university offers that first taste of freedom as young people leave the comfort and watchful eye of their parents/guardians and enter a world of near independence (cannot be forgetting the SLC). Though, it is not always an easy ride with the introduction of bills, budgeting and the juggling of a work/life balance, this experience is a necessary one that teaches valuable lessons for the future.
Money, Money, Money!
It is an immutable fact that university is an expensive endeavour. If it is not the £9,250 per year that students have to pay for tuition, it is the cost of moving out, buying pots, pans, bedsheets, duvets, and other university essentials. Even though this has not entirely stopped people form disadvantaged backgrounds from applying to university as one UCAS article reports, it still does give a people something to think about. What’s more is the fact that most students will be paying back that loan and the interest incurred for around 30 years before it is written off. A daunting prospect for some…
The travel opportunities and endless!!
University presents students with a great opportunity to travel and experience somewhere new. You can learn a new language, while learning about other cultures and cultural practices. While the British students (except for those from Northern Ireland) can no longer benefit from the Erasmus scheme, the UK government set up the Turing Scheme which allows for similar travel opportunities. According to the site, around 40,000 people are to take part.
There’s more out there
University is not the only option for success and not every is academically minded. For too long, the focus has solely been on going to university as a way of securing a future making all other options appear lesser than. This is not the case, according to the Sutton Trust, people doing a level 5 apprenticeship are likely to earn more over their lifetime than graduates with a degree from a non- Russel Group University. Furthermore, 31% of graduates do not do a graduate job, disabusing that notion that university is conveyor belt to that option. (Successatschool.org, 2021).
So, should you go to university?
Ultimately, that decision is yours and yours alone to make. As graduate myself, I liked my time at university and am extremely grateful for the chances it afforded me. Yet, I cannot deny the powers of the internet and social media, completely changing what it means to be successful today. With social media, influencers, entrepreneurs, journalists, and writers are born with a simple post. University is what you make it but that applies to other pursuits as well.
Coughlan, S., Richardson, H. & Long, J., 2021. A-level results 2021: Top grades reach record high. [Online]
Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-58086908
[Accessed 24 August 2021].
Successatschool.org, 2021. Your Guide To: The Pros And Cons Of University. [Online]
Available at: https://successatschool.org/advicedetails/926/pros-and-cons-of-university
[Accessed 24 August 2021].