A new report about the future faced by the UK’s students has shown that graduates are more likely to be substantially in debt and working in non-graduate jobs than they were 10 years ago, says Scottishtrustdeed.co.uk.
The report, which was carried out by Warwick University for the Higher Education Careers Service Unit (HECSU), analysed 17,000 students from the class of 2006 who were the first student year to try top up fees when they were launched.
The figures make stark reading. Far from a degree giving students an edge in the job market, today’s students are 50% more likely to end up in a non-graduate job compared to around 2% a decade ago and with the added punishment of leaving with 60% more debt. Example of non-graduate jobs given my respondents included working in a burger bar and sweeping roads, and debt levels averaged £16,000.
A substantial proportion of respondents faced more than six months of continuous unemployment, with men being unemployed longer (12.4%) compared to women (10.7%). This gap widened considerably when considered as a proportion of students doing the traditional three-year degrees, with 17.4% of men being unemployed for six months or more compared to 13.3% of women. However, over 66% of the respondents were optimistic about their career prospects and 60% were satisfied with their job.
Jane Artess, Research Director at HECSU, said: “What’s gratifying is that even in the wake of the recession, the onset of higher fees and large debts, graduates remain positive in the face of adversity with great confidence that their degree has been worth it.”
Top up fees have now been replaced by a straight-fee based system, which could add up to £9,000 a year to the total bill for a student to gain their degree. This adds yet more pressure to students who are already coming out of university with the highest levels of debt ever seen in order to pursue their chosen field of study.
Christopher McQuiggin spent three years studying a politics degree at Liverpool’s John Moores university, and three years later is still unemployed with £30,000 of debt. “I am a naturally optimistic and enthusiastic person but even so there are times when you feel like your health is suffering because of the constant pressure. I am the kind of person who likes a good hard slog but I get the feeling that it is now much harder for people than it used to be.”
This is a feeling shared by Lauren Bravo, 24, who graduated from University College London with a degree in English in 2009. “I probably owe around £30,000 in student loans but I prefer not to think about it.”
A spokesperson for Trust Deeds Scotland Provider, Scottishtrustdeed.co.uk said: “Student debt had increased in size from a couple of thousand pounds back in the 1990s when student loans were introduced to the whopping £30,000 debt burdens we see today. There has always been the perception that the debt is worth it because it leads on to careers that couldn’t be accessed otherwise, but this current research would suggest this isn’t the case. People are putting themselves into tremendous debt for jobs which they could have obtained without a university education.”