Many University students here in the UK are this week enjoying Freshers Week or if they are a returning student are starting to make their way back to University for the start of term proper.
The questions that come up a lot in conversation for me when I am out and about talking to people are:
Will I be guaranteed to get a job after I leave University?
Do you I have to go to University to get the job I want or is getting experience in the workplace better than going to University?
It seems that these days schools and colleges are pushing University as the route to go to get a good income in later life and they are pushing it on all students regardless of their aspirations. Now I went to University and am proud of my University education but that doesnt mean I think that everybody should go well at least go whilst Universities are in their current state.
With tuition fees rising each year to the point now that I look at them and think that if I was thinking about going to university today I just couldnt afford it. Now I know you can put a price on a good education but when someone is paying for a service they expect the best value for their money something which I think Universities arent doing at the moment. The prices have gone up but the amount of graduates finding well paid jobs in their specialist areas hasnt.
For me personally it took me two years after University to get a job in my specialism and if it hadnt been for me filling out hundreds of application forms and not giving up I could have quite easily ended up working in an office job all my life. Universities need to do more to connect their students with jobs at the end of their degrees.
Going to University shouldnt be about getting a grade on a piece of paper it should be about learning and experiencing the skills that you need to work in todays environment. I personally would like educational establishments to work with people and companies from the industries in which they run courses in. I want them to work in partnership to devise courses and modules that will give students real skills that are applicable to todays marketplace. I want industries and educational establishments to also work in partnership to offer work experience, work placements and jobs to graduates and under graduates in their educational establishments.
If we dont want to see a continuing large amount of potential, talent and skills go to waste we need to act now. I think the government need to look at and address this issue. The more skilled people you can get in to the workplace the better this country is going to be. The quicker you can get people in to well paying jobs the quicker they will be able to pay back their student debt and contribute to the economy instead of being a burden to it.
University students dont want to spend their lives in debt they want to contribute to this society and this economy we as a country and the government now needs to give them the chance to do so.
Universities need to stop being graded on the intellect and the grades of their students and alumni but on the number of their graduates that find skilled work in the areas in which they studied.
When I talk to people who are thinking of going to University I always advise them to speak to people who are in the industry they eventually want to work in first to see how they got in to that industry and if University is the best route. If you have decided University is for you then you need to research courses and University and find out about the modules and find out what past students on that course have gone on to do. Finally once they get to University I always advise them to get as much work experience in their chosen field as possible as with a University Education and a ton of experience you cant go wrong.
Founder of the Talented Young People organisation