First there were tuition fees and now, with the scrapping of maintenance grants, it seems that even more young people are reconsidering whether to go to uni. In fact, a poll of 2,275 young people aged between 16 and 21 found that over half of young people are thinking again about whether to go to university.
The poll, which was conducted by GiffGaff Money, also found that around a third of the young people believe that the removal of maintenance grants favour students from wealthy backgrounds, while a quarter say they feel ‘let down by the Government’ over maintenance grants.
If you didn’t know, the changes saw the system of maintenance grants replaced with maintenance loans, which look set to affect half a million of the poorest students in England. So rather than being offered financial support to study, these students are faced with the prospect of even greater debts – on top of the cost of tuition itself (currently at £9,000 a year). Added debts for those in society who are least able to repay them? Of course, you could argue that university offers young people a shot at landing the best-paid jobs, meaning they can easily afford to repay the money they ‘invested’ in their education?
Sadly, the facts on graduate employment don’t quite back that up, with many university graduates forced into taking work that is far below the high-paced roles they had hoped for – and even for those graduates who do land a good-paying job, often the so-called ‘graduate earnings premium’ is wiped out due to the levels of debt accrued.
The question is whether the cost of university has finally reached a tipping point for most families in England? With families being asked to cover a lot of the cost of their child’s university education, there are also concerns that the financial pressures on young people are causing mental health and wellbeing problems.
Richard Appletree, the managing director of GiffGaff Money noted, “The results suggest a feeling that students from wealthier backgrounds are being catered to and the voices of those from lower incomes are ignored. It’s disheartening to hear aspirational, young people from lower financial backgrounds feel certain experiences or life goals may be out of reach due to a lack of support.”
While these concerns are very real, perhaps it is time to take a proper look at the alternatives?
Too often young people see university as the only real choice, which is no surprise given the fact that this is often believed by their teachers and parents too. But what if we told you that you could get a degree without having to pay tuition fees at all (with a sponsored degree, you can!)? Or that you could earn a degree while on an apprenticeship (you can!)? How about the fact that a lot of career paths that were previously closed to non-graduates can now be accessed via apprenticeships (meaning you may not even need that degree!)? And, did you know that some apprentices go on to earn up to 270% more than their graduate peers over their working lives?
So, before you commit to a lifetime of debt, why not take a good look at your options? Take some time to explore the options that are available to you. You can find out about various alternatives to university right here at NotGoingtoUni, as well as getting some advice at our ‘Advice Centre.’ It’s not that university is a bad option – it is perfect for some people, but it is clearly very expensive and may not be right for you. So rather than just following along without a second thought, take a moment to really discuss your options - it could save you a fortune!