The University of Everything
The growth in University attendance since the turn of the millennium would now, for the first time seem to be slowing down as a similar rise in apprenticeships is appearing.
The imposition of student loans instead of grants has begun to have a braking effect on student take up, as some graduates are finding that academic certificates are not an automatic passport to top employment.
It has become apparent to both academic suppliers and students alike that a degree in lawn management, or media studies is not going to carry the kudos of a degree in genetic biology or quantum physics, and thankfully many of the more trivial courses have been quietly dropped.
The introduction of tuition fee payments and student loans have played their part in making school leavers think carefully about their next step away from school, and have played their part in weeding out irrelevant, featherweight degrees.
The student loan system has also resulted in potential students of many “core” degree course once thought of as career starters for traditional roles, from engineering to accountancy, or IT to architecture, to think again because of the potential overall cost of the course.
The figures can range roughly from £25,000 to £50,000’s worth of debt, and it is not fully appreciated yet, what this debt can imply.
It is not yet established when, or whether the amount could be evaluated by credit rating companies and present problems in the availability of future financial activities, such as mortgages.
It is probably not a coincidence that as the intake for universities has steadied, there has been a rise in interest in apprenticeships.
The financial aspect has been a major breaking point, making potential under graduates stop and think, but for some, academic life just doesn’t cut it.
Apprenticeships are out there for almost any young person to take up, and unlike students who have to take out government loans of thousands and thousands of pounds, apprentices start earning a wage from day one.
Earning whilst you’re learning is the key of apprenticeships. Depending on the employer, the wages for the first year may be below the National minimum wage, but after one year, they will be at least the National minimum wage, and many employers can pay over this.
The apprenticeship will involve hands on experience in the workplace. Real work in real time with real people.
The course also has a measure of academic teaching, which may be once a week, as a day release, or it could be a block of time, but either will spent at a local college or private training centre.
Whatever the level or intensity of the Apprenticeship course completed, it will result in a Nationally accepted qualification, from GCSE level right up to foundation degree.