Many recent graduates are unconvinced that university was worth the cost

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
June 23, 2017, 8:58 AM GMT+0

Large proportions of recent graduates and current students also don’t expect to ever pay off their student loans

University degrees' return on investment has been in the spotlight for some time and yesterday's release of the government's Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) caused a stir in the education sector by revealing that several leading institutions' teaching standards left something to be desired.

Now new YouGov Omnibus research among more than 500 current students and recent graduates shows their views on whether university is worth it. It finds that more than a third (35%) of those with a student loan who graduated between 2010 and 2017 disagreed that the "costs of going to university were worth it for the career prospects/learning I gained”. Six in ten (61%) agreed.

When it comes to the costs of a degree, YouGov's research also finds that there is significant pessimism among both recent graduates and current students with loans about whether they will ever be free of the burden of repayments during their working life. When asked how long they expected it would take to pay off their student loan, 41% of both recent graduates and current students say they don’t think they ever will.

Few think repayments will be relatively quick, with only 10% of recent graduates and just 5% of current students expecting to have their loans paid off within a decade of leaving university. Far more are preparing for the long-haul, with 17% of recent graduates and 13% of current students believing it will take 11-20 years to pay off their student loan, while 13% of recent graduates and 10% of current students thinking it will take 21-30 years to complete their repayments.

However, among recent graduates, these estimates may be based upon false expectations about how much they will end up having to pay back. More than four in ten (41%) say that they don’t understand how the interest rate on student loans works, compared to 25% who do. (The rest have either already paid off their student loans or never had one in the first place).

Photo: iStockphoto

See the full results here

This research was conducted using YouGov Omnibus's Field and Tab service

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