The question on my mind today relates to the value of university degrees and what advice to give our daughter about it when she’s older. But before we get started, please note that although some of the discussion may be true for secondary education elsewhere in the world, I will be specifically talking about studying in England.

I completed an integrated Master’s degree relatively recently and, after a long struggle to find a related job, have begun to question the value of a university education in England.

These are my thoughts.

University entries are at an all-time high even though the fees are too (£9K a year!). I finished my four year degree £30k in debt (and I entered at the previous, lower rate, before it went up) and since finishing have seen zero return on my huge investment of time, money and effort.

The truth as I see it is there are far too many graduates being released into the job market every year where there’s simply no demand for them. And although some fields, such medicine and dentistry, have an almost 100% graduate placement rates, most others fail dismally to guarantee you work after graduation.

Now, I understand that there are better degrees than others, and the same goes for universities and students. But I have a science Master’s and went to very reputable university, so I honestly didn’t see me having this much difficulty securing a job post-graduation.

Now, let’s take a look at some stats:

Universities directly contribute billions to UK GDP. Last year students in England owed 64,736 million in student loan debt (26 times students in Northern Ireland, 18 times students in Scotland and 22 times students in Wales). That’s incredible! And it indicates to me that there is a huge financial incentive for the government to encourage you to attend university in England. Not so for other European countries such Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, France, Poland, Germany and Malta, where a university education free of charge.

Secondly, if universities in England were providing degrees because they actually needed people with a specific skillset, why would they charge you such a ridiculous amount to fill the market and ultimately benefit? Surely it would be in their best interests. I guess that that that explains why nursing, medicine and density, and post-graduate teaching programmes are usually covered by bursaries, they actually need those people!

Do we really want our kids to start their adult-lives massively in debt to the government? I don’t. So this is what I will tell my daughter when she is older:

  • University doesn’t equal a job.
  • Some of the most successful people I know didn’t attend university at all or decided to become self-made tradesmen.
  • If you love something, you can gain skills and get a good job WITHOUT going to university.
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and Medicine and Dentistry degrees are favourable (although markets do change).
  • Degrees take a long time out of your working life, time that you could be using to actually get work experience and increase your value in the job market.
  • Money DOES make a difference and anyone that says it doesn’t is delusional.

I can only hope that we can provide our daughter with all the information she needs to make a fully informed choice about what she decides to do with her life. And that by always encouraging her interests and creativity and nurturing her talents always, she will have the tools needed to make a good life, FOR HERSELF!

Some might disagree but the truth is that money improves your quality of life and I, like all mothers, want our daughter to have good quality of life. So along with the above, she will be taught about the value of money and the role it plays in your life, and about the economy works.

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