Sir Richard Branson: Make degrees shorter and give young people a gap year before they apply

The TES is reporting calls from Sir Richard Branson for young people to be given a gap year to travel the world once they have completed their education at 16.

In what he described as his most outspoken criticism of the UK’s education system, the founder of Virgin said schools were not preparing young people for the wider world. He called for teenagers to be given greater experience in the “university of life” before making decisions about whether to go on to higher education.

Sir Richard made his comments at a Virgin Disruptors event, which considered the future of education. He also dismissed the idea of learning French in schools as a “waste of time”, as “nobody actually learns French in a classroom”…

The businessman added that young people should only have to learn basic arithmetic, unless they had plans to become a “rocket scientist, because you don’t need to learn much more”…

But Sir Richard’s main message was that teenagers should be encouraged to take a gap year at 16 to better prepare them for life after school…

“At 16, let the kids go and travel for a year. And, if they want to go to university, let them, but make sure those three-year courses are not all three-year courses. Some courses you can do in 18 months, some courses you can do in nine months. Why saddle everyone with three years of debt?…”

More at: Sir Richard Branson: Give young people a gap year at 16

 

Lots of suggestions here from Sir Richard – and I think he is so right on shorter year degree courses – but what of the idea of a gap year at 16? 

I reckon it would be an even better idea if it was made the norm at 18 for those wanting to go into higher education (and perhaps Sir Richard has his ages mixed up as he talks about the gap before students decide to go on to higher education): it would stop the made scramble for places at the same time as doing A-levels and remove all the issues with pre-result offers. In addition it would give young people space to pause, learn and reflect before cracking on with more formal education.

How about a scheme where 18 year olds do a year of voluntary work – at home or abroad – where they get board, lodging and work experience in return for doing something useful?

 

Would it be a good idea for all students to take a gap year before applying to university?

 

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Comments

  1. If they leave school at 16, how does Virgin’s boss think young people will get the qualifications needed to get into uni? And who will fund all this round the world travelling?

  2. And where did Sir Richard send his own children to school?  Son and daughter attended St Edward’s School, a boarding school in Oxford (motto Pietas Parentum Latin: “Parental Devotion”).  I’d be surprised if it offered only the basic curriculum Sir Richard advises for children of less mortals.

  3. Jacky

    If you are keen to continue studying and learning about a subject you love then to have to wait a year to carry on is madness. Apart from the whole financial aspect of funding it. However, I do think that it should be compulsory for those wanting to become teachers to have a gap, and preferably a job, in the ‘real world’ before heading back into schools for training and jobs. Going from school to university then back into school is not good. Having more experiences and more maturity generally makes better teachers, who are more able to cope, relate to and advise the school pupils.

  4. TW

    Perhaps the French should be compelled to provide a lover for all British 16-year-olds for their relaxation time when they get home from their unpaid day of work in one of Branson’s businesses.

  5. bedfordcollege

    SchoolsImprove With HE bedfordcollege they can study, work and live without a uni price tag. Leaving funds for fun.

  6. Hello TW, Jacky & Janet. Here in Germany (and Austria) they’ve a thing called a Voluntary Social Year that anyone can take with a school completion certificate up to the age 27 years. My boyfriend’s brother did it when he finished school without knowing what he wanted to do and spent a year living at home, on the pocket money you get from this, while working for a non-profit that provides food/company/support for old people in their homes. He ‘grew up’ so much in that year and was offered a proper job if he continued. By the end he’d concluded his future is in the police which is where he’s training now. Whatever happens though he knows he can go back to that company and get work – it’s a great way to get some security in this world and feel connected with local society, which many teens don’t feel. More info’s here if you’re interested in learning more: http://www.young-germany.de/topic/work/volunteering-in-germany-freiwilliges-soziales-jahr

  7. Hello TW, Jacky & Janet. Here in Germany (and Austria) they’ve a thing called a Voluntary Social Year that anyone can take with a school completion certificate up to the age 27 years. My boyfriend’s brother did it when he finished school without knowing what he wanted to do and spent a year living at home, on the pocket money you get from this, while working for a non-profit that provides food/company/support for old people in their homes. He ‘grew up’ so much in that year and was offered a proper job if he continued. By the end he’d concluded his future is in the police which is where he’s training now. Whatever happens though he knows he can go back to that company and get work – it’s a great way to get some security in this world and feel connected with local society, which many teens don’t feel. More info’s here if you’re interested in learning more: http://www.young-germany.de/topic/work/volunteering-in-germany-freiwilliges-soziales-jahr

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