This year, in the US, 30.2% of 18-year-olds have university places.
Almost any sort of professional job requires a degree these days, and the graduate premium (the earning difference between those who did and didn’t go to university) is £10,000 a year on average.
The trouble is, however, that “most people aren’t average” and, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, a fifth of graduates are actually worse off for going. And as the number who do so keeps rising the graduate premium is likely to shrink as degrees become ever more commonplace.
Which raises awkward questions about whether it is wise for the state, which pays almost half the cost of people’s university education, to be bailing out the 13 universities thought to be at risk of going bust. The truth is that “firms are crying out for people with all sorts of skills – web design, software development – that aren’t much taught at university”. Yes, this country does need to spend more on education. But not on its universities. (Emma Duncan, The Times)
My comment: It’s sad ( and annoying) that the media relentlessly talks about money – how much more you earn than those who never reach university. This sends an un-Epicurean message that income is all that matters in the modern world.
I would posit that, while it’s natural to want a chance for a well- paid job, it is the experience of university that matters for the rest of your life – an understanding of life, mind training, the improved ability to think things through and to be adaptable and creative, to make lifelong friends and to acquire better person-management skills. Not to mention growing up! As for technical skills, they still have to be learned, degree or not. It was always thus.
In my day ( in the UK) only 4% of the young population went on to further education. The world is better for the 30% now attending university.