Urgent Need to Think Beyond Degrees

By Home Learning College, PRNE
Monday, April 25, 2011

By Dave Snow, Academic Director at Home Learning College (https://www.homelearningcollege.co.uk)

LONDON, April 26, 2011 - Months of speculation over tuition fees ended last week with the news
that all 123 universities and university colleges in the UK will be charging
full time undergraduates at least GBP6,000 a year. Furthermore, three
quarters plan to charge the maximum GBP9,000 for at least some courses,
despite guidelines that these fees can only be justified in "exceptional

Factor in living expenses over the duration of a three year course and
the average university student is looking a cost of GBP48,500 to gain a
Bachelor's degree*.

These developments are a significant source of concern for two reasons.
Firstly, there is a strong likelihood that, despite ever-increasing
applications, the Government will have no choice than to cut undergraduate
places in 2012 to reduce the upfront costs of providing student loans. This
will leave many university hopefuls in a position of uncertainty regarding
their next step.

Secondly, those who do get a place will finish their course with a
significant level of debt. Continued high youth unemployment means there is
no guarantee of a job - well paid or otherwise - upon graduation, which is
bound to temper even the most positive spirit.

Considering the alternatives

As a result of these factors, many high calibre young people, who would
previously have entered higher education as a natural course of action, will
be forced to consider whether this is the most appropriate route.

The simple fact is that degree level study is not the only way to gain
the skills and knowledge required to be a productive member of the workforce,
whether as an employee or an entrepreneur. This point is supported by a Home
Learning College (www.homelearningcollege.co.uk) study which revealed
that 56% of business leaders strongly believe degrees have been devalued and
do not guarantee high quality employees. Despite this, many employers are far
too quick to insist that certain positions be filled by graduates.

Research by Ian Walker at Lancaster University has also shown that a
degree is no guarantee of a higher income. His study revealed that a male
graduate with a poor arts degree can expect to earn less over his lifetime
than a man going straight into employment after A-levels.

Promoting the benefits of professional study

In reality a targeted professional qualification is often a better
demonstration of capability than a degree. Credible awarding bodies exist
within many industry sectors, offering study pathways that have been mapped
against the Government's new Qualification and Credit Framework (QCF).
Examples include the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT)
whose Level 4 course is approximately equivalent to the first year of an
honours degree and secures entry into all four chartered accountancy bodies.

Employers who actively recruit those with professional qualifications
benefit from greater assurance that candidates have achieved a benchmarked
level of skill.

Time for a sea change

Taking these factors into account, it becomes clear that we must
seriously consider the educational pressures placed on the younger
generation. Rather than fighting for limited university places that will
expose many students to rising levels of debt, without an increase in
employability, we should re-focus attention on the value of vocational

Industry is a prime position to re-engage the younger workforce by moving
away from what is essentially a knee-jerk response towards higher education.
Similarly, school careers advisers should have a greater awareness of the
alternative educational pathways available to young people, helping to guide
them down more productive and appropriate routes.

For more information on Home Learning College's range of professionally
accredited distance learning courses please visit

*Figures released by HomesforStudents.co.uk, 21.04.2011

**Survey conducted by Home Learning College among 150 organisations,
ranging from micro businesses to blue chip companies with over 250 employees,
April 2010

About Home Learning College

Home Learning College is the largest vocational distance learning
provider in the UK, and is accredited by the National Union of Students
(NUS), allowing its 65,000 students to enjoy the discounts and services
available with the NUS Extra Card.

All Home Learning College courses lead to professional CV-enhancing,
employer recognised qualifications, including AAT (
Sage, CompTIA, Microsoft, ICB and CIW. Subjects covered include book-keeping,
accounting, IT and computing, web design and many more.

Home Learning College students benefit from a dedicated in-house tutoring
service and the Virtual Learning Community - an online learning environment
which facilitates the delivery of course material and peer networking.

For more information on all courses visit Home Learning College, follow
us on Twitter @home_learning or check out student testimonials and other
video content on our YouTube channel:

    Tor Goldfield
    Home Learning College Communications Manager
    Tel: +44(0)20-8676-6258
    Mobile: +44(0)7843-335606
    Email: tor.goldfield@homelearningcollege.com

Contact: Tor Goldfield, Home Learning College Communications Manager, Tel: +44(0)20-8676-6258, Mobile: +44(0)7843-335606, Email: tor.goldfield at homelearningcollege.com

will not be displayed