Number of young people who think going to university is 'important' falls, according to poll

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21st August 2019 11:51 - Education

Number of young people who think going to university is 'important' falls: A recent survey asking young people about their attitudes towards higher education has found that two-thirds (65%) believe that going to university is important - a fall of ten percentage points since last year. It also marks a drop from 86% in 2013.

A fifth (20%) of the 11-16 year-olds questioned in the annual Sutton Trust poll said that going to university is 'not important' - a rise from 11% in 2013.

The survey of 2,809 young people across England and Wales also found that three quarters (75%) believe that ‘knowing the right people' as well as 'having connections' (75%) is more important.

The majority of young people said that being confident was important for getting on in life, with 85% agreeing it was 'fairly' or 'very' important.

Socio-economic factors

The research found that there were differences in attitudes towards education between socio-economic groups. When looking at the importance of university, the study found that people from the least affluent families were less inclined to think going to university was important (61%), compared to 67% from more affluent families. 

The research also asked secondary school students about what they thought they would do after finishing school, with 77% saying they were ‘likely’ to go on to higher education. This figure is comparable to recent years, although down from 81% in 2013. Two-thirds (67%) from the least affluent families said they felt it 'likely' they would continue on to higher educatuion, compared to 83% in the most affluent families. 

Looking at the reasons given by children who answered that it was 'unlikely' they would carry on into higher education, 62% said they don’t enjoy learning or studying  or they don’t like the idea of further study, while 43% said it was due to financial reasons. Four in ten (41%) said they did not feel they were clever enough or that they didn’t expect to get the required grades to get a place, while a third (33%) said they could get a well paid job without a degree. 

For those children who felt they would go into higher education or hadn’t decided yet, 40% said they were 'fairly' or 'very' worried about the financial costs. Amongst those from the most affluent families, the figure was 32% - compared to half of those from the least affluent households (50%).

Sir Peter Lampl, founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust, said of the findings:

"Young people need better advice and guidance on where different degrees and apprenticeships could lead them, so they can make the right decision regarding their future."

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