More 18-year-old students are going to University than ever before, but is that a good thing?

This week, students across the country received their A-level results and faired pretty well,  despite exams becoming increasingly tougher. Not only this, but there has been a huge rise in unconditional offers UCAS says. It seems the number of people going to university becomes increasingly higher year after year.

Slow your roll there, how can they make A levels any tougher? I hear you scream into your device. Well, the powers that be have managed it, by scrapping coursework and returning to the final exams at the end of the year. Exam regulator Ofqual promised lower boundaries if the new examinations proved to be too hard, but it still added additional strain to both students and teachers.

Even with increasing pressures, more students are packing up their text books and heading to university, but I wouldn’t get too excited just yet. More and more institutions are dishing out unconditional and clearing places than ever. Some have said that this is due to a dip in birth rates in 2000 and so universities are looking to fill spaces. While on the surface, this seems like a positive step, higher education is becoming more accessible to everyone. Result. Right?

Unfortunately, in the past few years, education bosses have called for a rethink in unconditional offers, as they’re worried the effort won’t be put into the exams and therefore, the knowledge won’t be there. Let’s face it, if someone told you that you would get into higher education regardless of what your results were – you’d fly through the year. Or maybe that’s just me.

Increasing numbers applying and getting into university is a great thing for the institutions, they’re eyeballs are turning into dollar signs as I write this. It’s a great thing for the students, if they’re certain they’ve made the right decision at 18 years old. But for those who are just going because there are limited alternatives, it’s a long and expensive race to the finish.

While I’m on the subject of alternative options, in 2018 with our economy the way that it is, there aren’t exactly an abundant amount of options for young people. Get a job? Sure, if you can find one. Start up your own business? Impossible. What about an apprenticeship? Probably the best alternative if you can put up with the wages. The national minimum wage for apprentices is £3.70 per hour as from April 2018 and this goes up to £5.90 if you’re between the ages of 18-20. Many students still feel the need to go to uni, despite not seeing any point in it. 

Young people in this country are being let down. It’s as if we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Like anything, there are pros and cons of university. The millions it puts into the economy, the employability rates (which have recently gone back to pre-recession levels) and so on. It shouldn’t matter how or why someone got there, as long as they are making the most of the resources. More students got A-A*’s than any others in the last six years and that’s a win. But pressures grow and other options become limited. The result of this is that what little resources universities offer are not being utilised to the best of their or our ability.

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