A report has shown that doubts over the value of a university degree means that 4 out of 5 parents would prefer their child to pursue a form of apprenticeship over a university education. But GT Scholars wonders if it is this attitude towards higher-education that has helped strengthen the UK’s two-tier education system?
Raised university fees and the scrapping of the bursary will most likely have a negatively impact social mobility
With parental pressure towards vocational training, as well as fears over taking out large student loans, it’s no surprise that official figures suggest that poor teenagers are almost half as likely to go on to university than richer classmates. It’s likely that this means many gifted and talented children from less wealthy families are put off applying to university because of their socio-economic situation.
This is in stark contrast to parents from wealthier families who aren’t just more encouraging towards their children’s higher-education ambitions, but they are more likely to spend money on private tuition to help them gain access to the best colleges and universities. These parents have often taken on student debt themselves, have positive experiences of university and understand the value of a degree.
Graduates have traditionally earned more than their non-graduate peers
Scepticism over the value of a degree isn’t uncommon, but a recent study revealed that the majority of graduates are more likely to be in work and earn more than non-graduates. It also found that ten years after finishing university, graduates earned an average of over 25% more than non-graduates of the same age.
Although financial worries are a reality that aren’t going to disappear, nobody should feel like they don’t have access to higher-education because of their socio-economic background. It’s this unfortunate attitude that has helped to create a two-tier education system with students from poorer families less likely to pursue degrees – but the rise of degree-apprenticeships could help change this.
Degree-apprenticeships may be the solution
Degree apprenticeships allow students to do paid work at an accredited company, but also study for a management-related degree alongside it. Many high-profile firms across the UK, including M&S, Nestle, Rolls-Royce and Barclays, have signed up for the government backed scheme.
A student doing a degree-apprenticeship with Nestle spoke glowingly about the opportunity, “I find it incredible that at 21, compared to my friends who did go to uni, I’ll have not only a degree but also a professional status.”
Another student that made the decision to take up a degree apprenticeship because she was worried about getting into debt, saying “It was a worrying thought that I would be paying that off for the rest of my working life…The apprenticeship sounded a better option.”
With Government pledging to create 3 million degree-apprenticeships by 2020, this could be the change that sees working-class students have equal access to higher-education and finally puts an end to two-tier education.
At GT Scholars we believe that everybody should have access to the education that they want, no matter their background. That’s why we charge means-tested fees, to ensure that young people from lower income homes can access our programmes. To find out more about how we support young people through our courses, workshops and programmes, register your interest by visiting www.gtscholars.org/register-your-interest