I work at a university in an environment where students are obviously there to learn, or are they? Every year, particularly over the last 10 years or so, I meet increasing numbers of students who admit to not wanting to stay there. When asked why they are at university some don’t have any clear reasons, the most worrying is when they say it’s due to parents, or peer pressure, or school expected them to! I can’t see any reason why everyone must go to university, and I don’t understand why they would apply if they don’t want to study there. Sadly this trend does not look to decline.
I am concerned by this ‘following the herd’ kind of mentality about going to university. This seems to be more evident each year, and especially during the Clearing period in August; more often than not when asked what course they wish to study, they give vague and rambling answers about their qualifications and ask us to choose a course for them. With the increasing cost of tuition fees and living expenses, recent news telling us that students and graduates in England will pay up to 12% interest on their loans this autumn, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).The rate will dip in March 2023, when a cap on the interest will kick in. The IFS says a rollercoaster of interest rates lies ahead, but the long-term impact on repayments will not be large. This can become a big burden to go to university; so unless you have a real solid reason why you would go to University, you are not going to get the most out of it.
One BBC news article ( https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-57586742) suggests that students feel they are not getting the value for money during the Covid lockdown period. ‘Only about a quarter of students in the UK thought they got good value for money from university in the pandemic. An annual survey found students felt their fees and living costs were not justified by the disrupted teaching they received this academic year.’ So it is vital that students choose what they really want to do and question whether they need to go to university, to ask ‘is the financial investment worth the reward?’ As a parent and educator this is the question I have asked using the SEJ Process, and I am able to respond in a way that enables all concerned to find their own answers. More importantly I have encouraged students to question their own motives and reasons for going to university to find their own empowering truth.
University offers many wonderful opportunities to expand and improve your skills and knowledge, as well as growing as a person. Some professions require you to have a degree as a precursor to your career, e.g. medicine, law or accountancy etc. But equally there are other places through paid employment, or apprenticeships where you can receive just as varied and interesting skills and experiences. The world is your oyster, go out there and grab it, live your life and reach your full potential, and take the SEJ with you wherever you go as a life enhancing tool to make the best of these opportunities!
Dr M Howard-Kishi