University is a popular option for young people in the UK, and one which has seen ever-growing uptake since Labour’s push for increased university admissions in the early 2000s. In 2021, admissions were up 5% on the previous year. But concerns have begun to mount about the viability of university qualifications in the modern age – and many are re-evaluating their options for the start of their professional career. With this in mind, what are the tangible benefits to university study, and what disadvantages may lie in wait?
Broader Employment Opportunities
The major touted benefit to attending university lies in the opportunities available to graduates. A degree is proof of further education in a field of study, as well as proof of personal qualities such as hard work, determination and initiative.
Employers may find a CV with a bachelor’s or master’s degree more impressive than one without. Not only that, but many positions in certain industries may list a relevant degree as a requirement. Simply put: a degree can widen your prospects, making you eligible for more positions and increasing your likelihood of gainful employment.
Increased Salary Expectations
Obtaining a degree can also have a positive effect in applications for positions where further qualifications are not a requirement. Your additional skills and experience in your chosen field can work to your advantage, enabling you to negotiate a higher salary for your work.
Networking and Connections
While much is made of the weight a university degree can add to your CV, there is another facet of your studies which can have much wider-reaching implications for your professional career: networking. Over the course of your studies, you will meet like-minded students with similar skills and interests, as well as students in other fields of study and even professionals in your chosen field.
Forming a network early can pay dividends at the end of your studies, as your friends and colleagues build their own careers. These connections can give you quicker routes to lucrative positions, or the opportunity to grow your professional understandings
What are the Cons?
Unavoidably, there are some downsides to embarking on university studies – which may or may not represent a deal-breaker, depending on your individual situation. The biggest factor for many at the moment is that of finances; while full-time university students can enjoy their newfound independence, they can also find financial support for said independence lacking.
There are ways around this though, as quick loans for students are available to bridge the gap between maintenance loan or bursary payments. Many students also take up part-time work to subsidise their study, though this can be impractical for more intensive programmes of study.
University is also a long-term commitment, as you are required to give three years to your studies. This commitment also does not guarantee employment; though the jobs market is currently strong, there are more graduates in the employment pool than ever before, making for highly competitive application processes.