University a ‘false promise’ for too many youngsters

Up to a quarter of students in England are doing degrees that will not give them sufficient earnings to justify the cost of their loans, a think tank has concluded. A recent UK Government report (The Onward Report) acknowledges that “education has a value in its own right” and that “earning a living is not the only reason people study,” but also says too many young people “are being sold a false promise.”

According to the study, in 2015-16:

  • between 18% and 25% of undergraduates were studying for degrees that fail to deliver a lifetime-earnings premium that justifies the average student debt, from tuition fees and maintenance loans, of £50,000
  • 40% of undergraduates were enrolled in courses that led to median earnings below the student-loan repayment threshold, of £25,000, after five years
  • 10% were enrolled in courses with median earnings below £25,000 10 years after graduation – representing 134,000 students every year who won’t be paying back anything 10 years after graduating yet who will have accumulated significant interest
  • 20% would be no better off five years after graduating than if they had chosen to take a non-university route, such as an apprenticeship

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