University: Is it Worth It?

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Students are estimated to have around £44,000 worth of debt upon leaving university. This is the UK average, as in London the figure is closer to £60,000, not to mention 4 year courses.

Tuition fees, that make up the bulk of this debt, are waived after 30 years, meaning most students will probably never pay back their full fees with a currently rising interest rate of 6.1%. This means that for most students, the fees will act as a form of a university tax. With this in mind, it’s important to ask the question: is it worth going to university?

The top band of universities, with a good solid course, will eventually yield a worthy degree that will lead to employment. So the theory goes. Largely, this is true. A high employment rate, though this doesn’t tell the whole story, may indicate that university is worthwhile in terms of getting a job.

But with apprenticeships offering good, worthwhile prospects post-18 with a guaranteed job at the end of it, this may seem a better option. Some are even paid. These are no longer just for the young plumber, miner and chimney sweeper, but represent a genuine career opportunity. Top financial institutions like KPMG, Deloitte, PwC and even Lloyds are excellent options if you’re headed in that direction as a youngster. Apprenticeships can range from Microsoft, to the BBC, to BMW, but the limitations of this should be known also. Degrees carry with them a weight of flexibility. Your degree isn’t tailored to a particular job, its point is a display of your hard work, and natural intelligence. For this reason, the possibilities at the end of it can be extremely diverse. An English degree can lead to a career in writing, journalism and publishing. But it can also lead to advertising, web design, television. Apprenticeships give a fantastic head-start, a real experience-driven push in the direction you want to go. Yet it’s knowing this that’s the problem. For hearts set on a career after they leave school, apprenticeships should be considered, but their viability depends on this interest. If you might not know what you want to do for the next 50 years of your life, you may feel differently. Degrees, though full of tireless strain and effort (as well as a lot of partying), give you that security of having a diverse range of options when they are eventually obtained. The amount of people getting them though, has caused a few problems in recent years.

This social aspect of university is what, in my opinion, makes it worthwhile. It doesn’t make it worth “it” (it being the £44,000 worth of debt), but it certainly makes it worthwhile. Being chucked into a group of people who are a similar age to you, immersed in a culture of partying, pursuing your interests and living away from home and with friends is probably the best thing that could happen to many people who have finished school. Of course there’s amazing gap years and all sorts of ways (working being one) of providing a similar personality boost. But in my experience, there’s nothing quite like going to university to, as the cliche goes, “find yourself”. Southampton does this social side very well with its societies, events and nightlife but in truth, most universities do this because well, that’s what universities do.

The best education you can get is from learning from others; nobody can “teach” a suitable personality, you have to go out and become it. Of course, the opposing argument is that while this may be true it doesn’t mean you have to pay £44,000 for it.

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Politics Editor, 2nd Year English student. Writes mainly Politics + Opinion,

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