Updated: Aug 5, 2021
Our Company Manager, Leticia, looks at the pros and cons.
The UCAS deadline for 2019 seems like a way away, but a month and a half can whizz past, especially if you’re still not certain what you want to do at university, or whether you even want to go at all. I want to explore the motivations behind people going to university, and whether going to uni has a significant impact on your career potential!
While I was at school, university was the obvious option for me, and followed the trajectory that I considered to be normal, based on how I grew up and what others in my family had done. Recently, people have become more open to alternative career paths such as vocational study or apprenticeships, which lead towards getting a diploma that would allow you to do many of the same things which a degree would open doors for. As of 2017, about 42% of the UK population aged 21 to 64 have a university degree, according to research conducted by the Office for National Statistics. This is a huge number in comparison to the world percentage of degree holders according to a 2010 study conducted by Harvard, which is 6.7%! So, why do people in the UK still choose the more expensive route?
For people who would like to become academics, university is the obvious (and perhaps only) route — a postgraduate degree is usually a must-have if you’d like to become a lecturer or a researcher who is funded by a university. Some people go to university because they have a genuine passion for a subject and would like to know more without necessarily wanting to work in the field. Certain careers require a degree, like studying Medicine to become a doctor, as an obvious example. One reason I’d like to focus on is the idea that a university education leads to a better or a higher paying career in the future. Is this a fact or a myth?
It all depends on the career path. For some vocations, attending university would leave you in a worse position than not, because a degree may not be necessary or even practical, and you’d probably progress more quickly in the career by joining a company at a lower level and working your way up, without the baggage of tuition fees. But what about the less obvious ones?
To make this a fair and simple test, let’s focus on a career in IT. If you wanted to become an Infrastructure Engineer, you wouldn’t need to go to university, but there are many infrastructure engineering courses out there, and we know that a degree in Engineering carries some prestige, so it could be easy to assume that a degree is a must. However, many people have successfully advanced in engineering careers without having studied at university. The question is, are these people faced with some sort of glass ceiling which limits their ability to continue advancing within their career, or conversely does it make it harder to break into the career?
The average salary in the UK is just over £27,000 per annum. An online search showed me that most infrastructure engineers will start on a salary at least £3,000 more than the national average per year! Looking at the same jobs, they did not require a university degree, but more interestingly, they required experience and / or knowledge of certain computer systems. One employer advertised the role at £425 per day, which would pan out to around £100,000 per year — similar to the amount a high-earning doctor would be paid. The advertised job did not require a degree, but instead experience. Looking at this particular role, it is clear that a degree would be nowhere near as beneficial as experience.
Try to think ahead to what types of career you are likely to be interested in, and it will be easy enough to research whether or not you need a degree to follow any of those paths. If I had to do it all over again, I’d certainly go for a degree as I somehow feel that it’s safer than not having one. I say, if it doesn’t close any doors, what’s the harm in pursuing it?
Blog Post Crafted by Leticia
Leticia runs our Admin Team, supporting tutors, clients and applicants. She loves singing and will almost always be seen making a beeline for the microphone at any karaoke night!
Leticia manages the staff on our Admin Team, and often liaises with tutors, clients and applicants. She is also responsible for processing the ID, Qualifications, DBS Check and References for all our newly joining tutors.