Is it time to rethink the value of a college degree?


Tony Blair has said education is the ‘key to success’ as he set a historic target in 1999 for 50% of UK school leavers to go on to university.

Two decades later, that ambition has finally materialized and a record number of school leavers have since accepted places in higher education.

But concerns have been raised about ‘a bloated higher education institution’, said Sky Newsand the introduction of – and subsequent increase in – tuition fees have raised questions about whether students are getting what they pay for.

Are the students being “misled”?

In 2020, then-universities minister Michelle Donelan “launched a scathing attack on universities” for accepting what she considered “too many” applicants, the report said. i news to place. Speaking to the National Education Opportunities Network, Donelan said New Labour’s education campaign had “let too many young people down”.

“Too many people have been misled by the expansion of popular-sounding courses with no real labor market demand,” she continued. “Quite frankly, our young people have been taken advantage of – especially those who have no family history of going to college. Instead, some found themselves in debt from an investment that by no means paid off.

Euan Blair, son of the former prime minister, also questioned Labour’s education policy. Talk to The telegraph last year he said that “a lot of people” apply to college “simply because they think that’s what they’re supposed to do and that’s the way they’ve heard about it.” teachers or read in the media”.

He “wants to completely change the way people approach education by creating rival career paths for young people,” said the FinancialTimes. He founded a start-up, Multiverse, in 2016, which offers training and professional apprenticeships to young people. It “achieved unicorn status” in June when it was valued at $1.7 billion.

Education and employability

Although Tony Blair is apparently a “big fan” of Multiverse, he still seems determined to expand access to higher education. In April, his Institute for Global Change set out a new recommendation that 70% of school leavers should attend university by 2040.

The report concluded that there is evidence of “deficits in highly skilled occupations” and that the demand for these skills “will only grow” as technology transforms the modern workplace. The authors stated, “If the average education level of new workers stagnates, economic growth is likely to be even weaker than its current rate.”

Data trends also indicate that a college degree can help increase a person’s future earnings potential and employability. The Higher Education Statistics Agency has published a report last year finding that, on average, graduates born in 1990 will earn 10% more than non-graduates by age 26. succeed at work,” said Times Higher Education.


Do university courses offer good value for money? Does just looking at the bottom line take away the benefits of a college education? And do alternative routes offer better value for young people entering the rapidly changing job market?

Nathan Samson, CEO of The access projectJohn Gill, editor of Times Higher Educationand Elisabeth Barrett, Vice President of Learning at Multiverseshare their thoughts on this episode of The Overview podcast.


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