Going to university: invaluable rite of passage, or not worth it?
by Harris MacLeod in Politics Lab
Mon August 20, 4:02 p.m. BST
On August 16, thousands of anxious students across Britain received the results of their A-level examinations, which would determine whether they had secured entry into the universities of their choice.
On the day of reckoning, David Willetts, the universities minister, said there was "a long-term trend for more and more people to aspire to go to university", and predicted that an increasing number of employers would require prospective employees to have a university degree.
Others have argued that having a university degree is not a guarantee of success, however, and that those who choose to study vocational subjects might be better off in some cases.
We invited you to explore this question – that is, of whether or not going to university is a valuable thing for a person to do, all things considered – by arguing your corner in PoliticsLab.
It seems that most of those taking part in the discussion felt that going to university is a valuable thing for a person to do, for the following reasons:
- That a university education helps “expand horizons”, and that in addition to gaining academic knowledge, the university experience helps young people transition into adulthood.
- Participants also said being a university graduate gives job-seekers an advantage over those who do not have a university degree, and that it is a requirement for many jobs.
- Some of you pointed out that going to university was increasingly expensive, however, and that students must balance the desire for development with the costs, and also think carefully about what future careers they want when choosing their courses.
There were those who took the opposite view in Labs, though, who perceived that going to university had no value because:
- Having a university degree (it was felt) is no guarantee that a graduate will be able to secure a job, and that in many cases employers value real work experience over a degree.
- Others argued that not everyone is academically inclined, and therefore it’s not right for young people to be pushed into a university degree for which they may not be suited, and that the number of people getting academic degrees dilutes their real value.
- Many of you made the point that going to university is very expensive, and leaves graduates saddled with debt, without any guarantee of getting a job.
(Click on the headings below to read panellists’ quotes from either side of the debate)
Do you think going to university is a valuable thing for a person to do?
And if you could study any university subject, just for fun, what would it be?