There have been a slew of negative stories recently about students and their prospects going forward. Following this, some universities have come under pressure to explain themselves regarding very high dropout rates for some courses.
This has led some to question whether, given the relatively high cost of university, it’s really worth bothering at all?
Those claims are, of course, ludicrous and it’s as true as it ever was that a university education is extremely valuable to future employment and income prospects in many industries.
However, it is true that there are some institutions which would find it hard to deny accusations they offer courses that provide little value for money, at least in terms of employment prospects. There are some across the UK that have dropout rates of over 50% and these figures cannot be ignored.
That being said, satisfaction amongst students that attend and complete their courses remains very high and attendance rates have remained stable for nearly a decade. It is reported that most students understand the idea that although tuition fees may seem relatively high, they are only paid back once somebody is earning a certain amount, and that repayment rate depends on your income.
However, the high overall costs might explain why Sky News recently released research saying that one third of Britons - including more than half of 18-24 year-olds - think the cost of university is not worth it for people currently considering applying.
Just over half - 54% - say university it still worth it, but 35% believe that it is not. Among 18-24-year-olds, 53% say it is not worth it, while 39% say it is.
Crucially, however, of those polled who had actually attended university the change was stark - 76% said it was worth it, while 22% said it was not.
What does this say about the current climate for higher education and its image with the wider public?
Misconceptions, it seems, are rife. If we take into consideration that a third of those who haven’t attended university believe that it isn’t worth it compared to over three quarters of those who did attend, then we can see wildly different pictures emerging.
What about the next generation then? How do they feel? A recent poll by Ipsos Mori sought to investigate the differences in opinion between ‘Generation Z’ aged 14-21 and ‘Millennials’, Generation X and so called ‘Baby Boomers’, and the results were fascinating.
Participants were asked what achievements would make Generation Z happiest in life, what is most important to Generation Z and whether they’ll have a better or worse life than the generation before them.
Having a job they love is most important to Generation Z, followed by 17% who said having a family with kids would make them happiest in life. In contrast, only 1% of Generation X and Baby Boomers agreed that having a family with kids is important to Generation Z, and thought being on TV/famous was more important to them.
In a wide ranging survey they took in values, priorities and ethics, this was perhaps the most interesting statistic as it ran in complete opposition to how others saw their priorities.
Those aged between 14-21 most valued being able to work in a job they loved, the highest percentage of any of the respondents. If we take this to mean that this generation are more willing to do what it takes to achieve job satisfaction it’s not a big leap to take that to mean that university will be a big factor in that.
Generation Z, with this in mind, are actually more likely to research and pick a course they know they will enjoy and which will result in the best possible employment opportunities.
For landlords, we should take this to mean that the future of higher education is bright, and that we can expect student numbers to increase as well as the quality of those students.