Parents Question Value of University Education: According to new findings released by the Guardian and YouGov, more than half of parents believe that course fees of up to £9000 per year offer students poor value for money. Despite this, the majority of respondents still feel that a degree-level education is the best route to a career. The figures, which include responses from parents of secondary school aged pupils from across England and Wales from all social backgrounds, suggest that less than one in six (14%) think tuition fees are a good deal. Three fifths (60%) felt that degrees were not worth the current cost – which when living expenses are taken in to account, are estimated by some to top £50,000 for a three year degree.
The research also suggests some changing perceptions – including a majority being open to the idea of internet based courses where students watch video lectures online, and almost half being positive about the value of apprenticeships – an area of education which has been pushed recently.
However, the research also outlines some continuing trends within society which impact on whether or not students are likely to attend university. Among families with an annual income of more than £50,000, eight out of ten expect their children to apply to university; this figure falls to just over half (56%) among families with an income of below £20,000. In addition, there remains a hereditary element to higher education aspirations – three quarters of parents who graduated from university themselves expect their children to apply to take up a degree course, with the same figure dropping to 46% among parents who left school at 16.
Still, despite their feelings about cost and the difference in aspiration among different members of society, two thirds of the 1,100 parents surveyed maintained the view that traditional, full-time university education is an effective way for their children to attain their desired career. Indeed, averaged across all social classes, 63% of parents believe their child will go on to higher education – a high level of aspiration given the current proportion of young people going to university is 49%, following a dramatic increase in recent years.
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