Almost half of all students regret going to university

Research by Barclays Apprenticeships has revealed that almost half (48%) of students and graduates who left university in the past five years regret their decision to go to university, and 44% said they do not need a degree to do their current job.  It also found that 65% of young people felt under pressure to go to university, with 34% citing this pressure as coming from their parents and 19% from their friends.

Many (70%) felt their parents would have been disappointed if they hadn’t gone to university, and when asked their reasons for choosing university almost a fifth (18%) admitted they only went to please their parents.  However, these assumptions do not appear to correspond with the views of their parents. More than half (54%) of parents of students and graduates said they would not have been disappointed had they not gone to university. In fact 71% said they would encourage their child to do an apprenticeship over a university degree.  This is a significant shift in attitudes compared to 2016, when 65% of parents was university as the best option for their child.

Fear of not being able to get a job after university was a key worry for 42% of young people who did or are doing a degree. 58% said that their reason for obtaining a degree was to improve their job prospects. However, of the employers surveyed, 70% said they valued degree apprenticeships as highly as a university degree, and 96% said they would employ someone who had done an apprenticeship or a degree via the apprenticeship route.

Educators’ attitudes also appear to be changing, with almost half (42%) of those surveyed saying teachers discussed apprenticeships as an alternative career route, compared to less than a quarter (24%) in 2016.  Mike Thompson, head of apprenticeships at Barclays and a member of the government’s Apprenticeship Delivery Board, said that high levels of student debt have contributed to students choosing different education routes, rather than going to university. He said “We now need to work hard to further banish any stigma attached to apprenticeships, especially among students who may worry their parents perceive this as a ‘disappointing’ choice, which is simply not the case.”

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