Insights What to do if University isn’t Working
25 January 2019

What to do if University isn’t Working

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Record numbers of teenagers are entering higher education each year – but what if it turns out to be the wrong choice?

Like many young people you might feel that university is the only option when you leave school or college, especially if you’ve had great grades throughout your academic career. But, depending on how you learn best, the academic nature of many university courses might not be for you. You might prefer a more hands-on approach to learning.

Perhaps the high cost of a university education is a concern. If you need to work for pay alongside your studies you’ll face understandable challenges balancing the tough demands. It might not be feasible to limit your time in paid employment to the recommended 15 hours per week, so you find yourself struggling for both time and money.

In last year’s Student Academic Experience Survey from the Higher Education Policy Institute  (HEPI) 12% of students stated the university experience was worse than they imagined. And the percentage of students who feel they’re not getting value for money at university now stands at 32%.

So if university isn’t working out for you, what are the alternatives?

Learning on the job

With more funding going into apprenticeship schemes, the choices for young people are now broader than ever. And for many, learning on the job is becoming an increasingly attractive option.

Nikki Bardsley, Director of Apprenticeship Operations at Seetec, says, “We want to help young people look at their options. There are so many different courses and opportunities that can be undertaken by apprentices and this is something so often overlooked. Plus, learning skills on the job while earning a living is such a pragmatic way for a young person to start looking at their career and what they want to do.”

Saving money and avoiding debt

As a university student you may be expected to undertake an unpaid internship to gain practical work experience, either during or after your studies. However, an apprenticeship gives you the chance to earn your own wage while gaining valuable experience and avoiding student debt.

Holly Martin, 19, is studying for her level 3 in digital marketing whilst working as a marketing and events executive at Lancashire Business View. She says, “I’ve heard a lot of horror stories from people I know who study for years, spend all their money and get into debt just to end up back working in part time roles once they graduate. I know now that I’m already in a stable position for my age and I’m learning on the job which I wouldn’t have been able to do at university.”

Studies show that apprentices currently studying banking, IT or accountancy can earn over £17,000 per year, with far more disposable income than the average student. To put that in perspective, you could earn £52k over three years – which is the average amount of debt accrued by students in the same period.

What now?

The choice for young people entering higher education has never been broader. So if university isn’t for you, it’s not the end of the world. More and more funding is being allocated towards apprenticeship schemes and developing new standards. And with almost 400 currently available, you just need to find the one that suits you best.

Need some advice on the options available to you? At Seetec, we can support you with your apprenticeship search and help you take the next step. Get in touch with our friendly team of advisors to find out more.