LONDON, April 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
- By Dave Snow, Academic Director at Home Learning College (http://www.homelearningcollege.co.uk)
Months of speculation over tuition fees ended last week with the news that all 123 universities and university colleges in the UK will be charging full time undergraduates at least GBP6,000 a year. Furthermore, three quarters plan to charge the maximum GBP9,000 for at least some courses, despite guidelines that these fees can only be justified in "exceptional circumstances".
Factor in living expenses over the duration of a three year course and the average university student is looking a cost of GBP48,500 to gain a Bachelor's degree*.
These developments are a significant source of concern for two reasons. Firstly, there is a strong likelihood that, despite ever-increasing applications, the Government will have no choice than to cut undergraduate places in 2012 to reduce the upfront costs of providing student loans. This will leave many university hopefuls in a position of uncertainty regarding their next step.
Secondly, those who do get a place will finish their course with a significant level of debt. Continued high youth unemployment means there is no guarantee of a job - well paid or otherwise - upon graduation, which is bound to temper even the most positive spirit.
Considering the alternatives
As a result of these factors, many high calibre young people, who would previously have entered higher education as a natural course of action, will be forced to consider whether this is the most appropriate route.
The simple fact is that degree level study is not the only way to gain the skills and knowledge required to be a productive member of the workforce, whether as an employee or an entrepreneur. This point is supported by a Home Learning College (http://www.homelearningcollege.co.uk) study which revealed that 56% of business leaders strongly believe degrees have been devalued and do not guarantee high quality employees. Despite this, many employers are far too quick to insist that certain positions be filled by graduates.
Research by Ian Walker at Lancaster University has also shown that a degree is no guarantee of a higher income. His study revealed that a male graduate with a poor arts degree can expect to earn less over his lifetime than a man going straight into employment after A-levels.
Promoting the benefits of professional study
In reality a targeted professional qualification is often a better demonstration of capability than a degree. Credible awarding bodies exist within many industry sectors, offering study pathways that have been mapped against the Government's new Qualification and Credit Framework (QCF). Examples include the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) (http://www.homelearningcollege.co.uk/Courses/AAT-Courses/?cp=HLCPRS0058) whose Level 4 course is approximately equivalent to the first year of an honours degree and secures entry into all four chartered accountancy bodies.
Employers who actively recruit those with professional qualifications benefit from greater assurance that candidates have achieved a benchmarked level of skill.
Time for a sea change
Taking these factors into account, it becomes clear that we must seriously consider the educational pressures placed on the younger generation. Rather than fighting for limited university places that will expose many students to rising levels of debt, without an increase in employability, we should re-focus attention on the value of vocational learning.
Industry is a prime position to re-engage the younger workforce by moving away from what is essentially a knee-jerk response towards higher education. Similarly, school careers advisers should have a greater awareness of the alternative educational pathways available to young people, helping to guide them down more productive and appropriate routes.
For more information on Home Learning College's range of professionally accredited distance learning courses please visit http://www.homelearningcollege.co.uk.
*Figures released by HomesforStudents.co.uk, 21.04.2011
**Survey conducted by Home Learning College among 150 organisations, ranging from micro businesses to blue chip companies with over 250 employees, April 2010
About Home Learning College
Home Learning College is the largest vocational distance learning provider in the UK, and is accredited by the National Union of Students (NUS), allowing its 65,000 students to enjoy the discounts and services available with the NUS Extra Card.
All Home Learning College courses lead to professional CV-enhancing, employer recognised qualifications, including AAT ( http://www.homelearningcollege.co.uk/Courses/AAT-Courses/?cp=HLCPRS0058), Sage, CompTIA, Microsoft, ICB and CIW. Subjects covered include book-keeping, accounting, IT and computing, web design and many more.
Home Learning College students benefit from a dedicated in-house tutoring service and the Virtual Learning Community - an online learning environment which facilitates the delivery of course material and peer networking.
For more information on all courses visit Home Learning College, follow us on Twitter @home_learning or check out student testimonials and other video content on our YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/homelearningcollege
Contact: Tor Goldfield Home Learning College Communications Manager Tel: +44(0)20-8676-6258 Mobile: +44(0)7843-335606 Email: [email protected]
SOURCE Home Learning College