Higher Education Still Highly Recommended

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A survey has shown that the British public are still five times more likely to recommend higher education than not, even though the gap in graduate vs non-graduate earnings has dropped in recent years.

Despite plans for higher tuition fees and the fact that graduates now earn comparatively less than twenty years ago, the majority of the British public would still recommend higher education to young people.

A recent survey carried out by YouGov Cambridge asked the public how likely they were to recommend higher education to young people, on a scale of 0 (not at all likely) to 10 (extremely likely). The respondents were clearly on the side of university.

Higher Education Recommendations

Overall, 69% answered at least six out of ten, whilst just 16% said four or below. Out of those asked over the age of 55, the figures were even more emphatic, with 50% answering eight or above, compared to only 42% of 18-34 year olds.

The survey was carried out with the fact that fees are increasing in 2012 in mind, and seem to suggest that the general public are not as worried about the increases as has been suggested. A spokesman for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills backed the survey results and defended the increased fees, saying: 

"Most students will not pay upfront costs, there will be more financial support for those from disadvantaged families and everyone will make lower loan repayments than they do now once they are in well paid work. It is important that no-one is put off applying to university because they do not understand the new system".

Degrees Still Offer Higher Wages

The results of the survey were revealed on the same day that a separate set of statistics has shown that employees with a degree in Britain now earn on average 85% more than those who left education at the age of 16.

The figures, from the Office for National Statistics, show that the average hourly wage for graduates was £16.10, whilst for employees only educated up to GCSE level (exams taken at 16 in the UK) the average was just £8.68. Whilst this may sound like a big difference, it has actually quite significantly decreased in the last 20 years. In 1993 the margin stood at 95%, mainly because there were therefore fewer graduates and therefore the graduate wages were comparatively higher.

Effect of Increasing Fees

It will be particularly interesting to check back on both these sets of figures again over the next five years, as increased fees are introduced at UK universities. The tripling of tuition fees from 2012 onwards will likely affect both sets of data.

With students having to pay £9,000 per year rather than £3,000, they will be leaving university with far more debt than currently. As a result, people may not be quite so willing to recommend university to younger generations once they actually see the results of the increased fees. Equally, the high fees may ultimately reduce the number of university students, as well as force universities to improve their courses to offer value for money. Both of these factors may increase the wage margin between graduates and non-graduates, pushing the figure back towards the margins of twenty years ago.

These are just two further examples of how the changes in the Higher Education system in UK are likely to have unexpected results over the coming years.


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