Piccadilly Pulse: Is it worth going to university in 2011?

By Liam Hocking & Tom Midlane

Given the expense and the lack of a guaranteed job at the end of it, is going to uni worth it in 2011?

Today thousands of nervous young people across Manchester get their A-level results and discover their fate. If they’ve got the grades, chances are they’ll be off to university, leaving those who miss out bitterly disappointed. But is uni necessarily the be all and end all these days?

Whereas once a degree meant being part of a privileged elite, nowadays almost 40% of young people go to study at degree level. And it’s hard to overlook the cost. Gone are the nostalgic days of government grants and free education for all – 2011 is the last year before the fees go up to a maximum of £9000-a-year. That’s £27,000 debt for a three year course, before you’ve even factored in living costs.

Since a degree no longer guarantees a job in the way it once did, would young people be better undertaking apprenticeships or plunging straight into the workplace?

Mancunian Matters took to the streets to ask the question:

Given the expense and the lack of a guaranteed job at the end of it, is going to uni worth it in 2011?


Only if studying a subject where

university study is vital (i.e. medicine, law)




Ehryn Strong, 25, data coordinator at Shrewsbury Royal Hospital

I think so, simply because you’ve got three years when you can live tax free, although you do have student loans. It also means you’d got more options later on in life – for example, if you want to move abroad, it’s much much more easier to find a job if you’ve got a degree, it doesn’t matter what it’s in.


Anonymous, 57, sixth-form college teacher

I think it’s still worth going provided that the student knows exactly what path they’re following, they are getting a degree for a purpose, they’ve looked very very  closely at the employment market and what opportunities there are, and not just getting a degree and hoping for the best.

Chantel Marr, 23, cleaner

It is a chance to move out of home for a lot of people. Personally for me it was just more of a life experience. It was a chance to get out of where I live, to move away, to see more of the country, to meet more people and definitely just get more involved in more things. It’s as much a social thing as an education thing.


Arianna Glenton, 24, cafe assistant and theatre worker

I’m 24 and I’m supposed to be starting in September, and I’m really not sure about whether it’s worth it. It’s four years of my life, and I’m not really sure where that’s going to take me. It’s a lot of money.

Graham Pryke, 60, teaching support at Bridge College, Offerton

When you think how about much it’s going to cost in the future, you’re not going to think ‘Well, I’ll do this course and decide what I want to do later’. There’s people who have to go to university, to become a doctor, a solicitor, that sort of thing. All the kids now think they have to go to university, to do any job.


Francesca Conerney, 18, student

To be honest, no I don’t think it’s worth it. I feel sorry for people who are in university now because next year when people don’t want to go to university because of the fees, all the jobs are going to be taken. Those people will get the jobs before the people who have a degree and actually know what they’re talking about.


Andy Gray, 42, chief executive of the Council for Voluntary Services (CVS)

Personally, I do. I went myself, and I think it’s worth it just to have two or three years getting to know a different cohort of people, often moving away from home, learning life skills, having a bit of fun, drinking, growing up in a lot of ways. I think there’s plenty of time for working, particularly as we’re all going to be working into our 70s.  

Paul Wadsworth, 69, physics teacher

I was very lucky to go to university in 1972, I was the first person in my family to go. It’s disgraceful that people have to pay a large amount of money to gain higher learning. I think if you do the right course, there’s more of a chance of getting a job.


Richard Redman, 42, Cooperative grocer

It’s definitely worth going to university, but it’s that balancing act of the price – it’s like a mortgage when you finish, basically. If I had the money, I’d definitely say go. I’d begrudge it, because I got a university education free, but I hope my daughter will go.


Maureen Lowe, 65, retired police PI

I think you get more experience from life. When I left school and I trained up in a job, I didn’t have any qualifications. I left that job, and two years later I needed a string of qualifications to get that same job.


Mona, 17, college student

No I don’t think it is. You’re still getting jobs without a degree, aren’t you? I’d rather do a Level 3 course or an apprenticeship, that seems better than going to uni.


Seenam, 17, college student

I will probably consider going to uni, I think getting a degree is really important but there’s also no point because the jobs are running out because of the recession. Getting a degree doesn’t guarantee you a job, but it gives you a better chance.


Alex Nykiel, 16, student

I want to go to university, it costs a lot of money but I don’t mind because it’s worth it. I’ll make more money later on from going.


Paul Moth, 32, leaflet distributor

I presume so. It means you can apply for a better job and a better life. I’m a wagon sprayer by trade, but I can’t get a job any more. I did an apprenticeship, but now I can’t get a job.

More related stories:

Degree or not degree? MM’s guide to the alternatives to university on A-level results day

A Level students: Don’t panic about clearing ahead of Thursday’s results


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