Young People Feel Pressured To Go To University, Research Finds

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Young Brits feel like they are being pushed to go down the route of university, research has found.

A survey of 1,500 recent school leavers found two thirds were urged to go into higher education by teachers, while almost six out of 10 said their parents wanted them to pick that option.

And it’s not surprising; with more jobs demanding a university degree or equivalent to even get an interview, the pressure is on to conform.

For the most part, teens said their parents were supportive of whichever path they decided to follow, although one in five said their parents pushed ‘too hard’ to pick further education.

The study, carried out ahead of the deadline for UCAS applications on January 15, also found seven in 10 teenagers asked their parents for advice on what to do with their lives.

But only around one in eight followed the advice given to them by mum and dad when deciding on the next step. Yep, sounds about right.

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And it wasn’t just parents who they turned to for help: 30 per cent said they asked their friends for advice, 24 per cent asked their favourite teacher, and 22 per cent asked a careers advisor.

Rob Alder, head of business development for AAT, who commissioned the research, said:

For many school leavers university remains entirely the correct option. However, it’s not the only one available and many may not realise that there are alternatives available, including high-quality apprenticeships and trainee schemes which can unlock the door to a long and successful career.

In the accounting industry, for example, we see thousands of people each year who left school at 18, got a job and qualified a year earlier without the student debt that graduates built up. In addition, it did not harm their long term career prospects.

Of the school leavers who took part in the study, 51 per cent went to university after finishing further education, while 11 per cent took part in an apprentice or trainee scheme. 15 per cent went straight into the world of work without doing any further training.

When asked to consider what they thought was most important to them when deciding what to do after secondary school, 42 per cent said they wanted to pursue a route which they were passionate about.

One in four prioritised making money above all else, while 21 per cent wanted to do their best to follow a path which would provide them with a stable future.

But what do the parents think? The study also surveyed 500 parents of school leavers to uncover how they assessed their own involvement in their child’s decision.

When asked, 56 per cent of parents recommended that their kids continue on to university, and one in seven thought they would benefit from taking part in an apprenticeship. While one in eight parents thought their child would be served best by entering directly into the world of work.

Seventy two per cent of parents believe apprenticeship schemes and further training courses have become a more viable choice for school leavers in recent years, according to the survey conducted by OnePoll.

David Allison, CEO and Founder of GetMyFirstJob.co.uk said:

In recent years we’ve seen more and more young people and parents question the value they get from a traditional degree. The fees and associated debt quickly rack up with a full time degree, and owing £50,000 before you get your first job should really encourage all young people to look at the options open to them.

The good news is that there are now more alternatives than ever before to the ‘traditional’ university route with Accountancy and Professional Services leading the way.

We managed over 25,000 applications for accountancy and finance related apprenticeship roles last year, many of them with very attractive starting salaries. These young people will end up with a great qualification, no debt and relevant experience – the one thing that money really can’t buy.

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Two people who decided to take on an apprenticeship rather than go to university are Ryehan Amir and Tyler Bowers – and they haven’t looked back since.

Ryehan left full time education in 2016 and took up an apprenticeship in the finance team at a water treatment firm, studying AAT Accountancy Qualifications.

The 20-year-old said:

Taking the AAT route meant that I could gain valuable experience from professional people in accountancy.

At the end of my studies I will have a highly respected qualification behind me, teaching me all the qualities needed to be a successful accountant.

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Despite knowing this was the route he wanted to take, Ryehan said his college wasn’t helpful in offering him support.

He said:

I felt that, in some quarters, there was a belief that to succeed, you need to go to university.

Tyler Bowers, 22, works as a trainee accountant for an accountancy firm and is studying AAT’s Advanced and Professional Diplomas in Accounting as part of his apprenticeship programme.

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He said:

I always liked the idea of learning and earning… I knew I wanted to avoid the possibility of getting into debt by going into University, and realised I could instead train while being employed by a finance firm.

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