Are schools still failing to inform their students about the alternatives to university?

Writing in the Huffington Post, Hattie Wrixon, the founder of Uni’s Not For Me, argues that schools should do more to promote alternatives to university to their students…

Last week Ucas revealed a 4% rise in applications and over 87,000 more girls applying than boys, which got me thinking: are most schools still failing to inform their students about the alternatives to university and why are so many more girls applying to university than ever before?

Since tuition fees went up two years ago, I thought debts in the region of £50,000 would be enough to make anyone think about a future in higher education, especially with so little guarantee of interesting and well paid work at the end of it. However, based on the Ucas figures, it would appear not. Apprenticeships are on the rise and more and more companies are launching school leaver programmes, yet still it seems these opportunities are not being considered because, I imagine, there’s still a stigma attached to bypassing university? When I first decided not to apply for university, it was a shock to friends and family, mostly because there was still very little information about the alternatives (hence my decision to create a platform informing others in a similar situation to mine)…

Deciding uni wasn’t for me brings at least one major advantage, which is that I’ve travelled all over the country to see friends at their respective universities – and ironically, I think I can call myself something of an expert on the virtues and vices of student life, and the ups and downs of different cities and different campuses. But what seems almost universal is that very few people are loving the academic side of student life. Social life, sure, but a maximum of five or six lectures a week and an expectation that you should be a self-starter in all aspects of your life, not so much.

Long (very long) lie-ins, take away pizzas, and bathroom floors harbouring indescribable life forms also feature heavily.

But, given that we expect uni to be an extension of formal, structured learning, I – and most of my friends – are perplexed by a system that churns out endless reading lists, and pretty much expects you to get on with it. One friend, now in her second term reading history at Bristol, has had just one tutorial since she started. My mum, reading French at Newcastle in the 1980s, had as many lectures in a day as some of my friends have in a week…

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More at: Are Schools Still Failing to Inform Their Students About the Alternatives to University?

Do you think Hattie makes a fair point? Are universities the default for too many young people and not especially good value for many? Do schools do enough to point out alternatives? Please give us your opinion in the comments or via Twitter…

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  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove University is portrayed by most MPs as the only way forward – you have to have a very specific need for a degree in my view

  2. esioul

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove completely agree with you there Andy, university has lost its purpose really, it’s oversubscribed!

  3. andylutwyche

    esioul SchoolsImprove University is fine if you have a specific course for a specific job. Otherwise, is it worth the huge debt incurred?

  4. esioul

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove nope, definitely not worth the debt, but also with pressure to go to uni are people doing what they want?

  5. strongie

    SchoolsImprove pembrokeferry Too many convinced that Uni is the only way but not enough apprenticeships. Uni quals not the only way.

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