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Bust some myths

I must live away from home...
  • I must live away from home...
  • Uni doesn’t offer ‘hands-on’ work experience
  • I won't get a job or a good salary after uni
  • I won’t get the grades to go to university
  • There's too many graduates and not enough jobs
  • I can only go to university if I like academic subjects like Maths and English
  • I will always be paying my student loan off
  • I won’t be able to afford to make my student loan repayments

For many, university provides an opportunity to move away from home and to live independently for the first time. However, around 1:6 students now choose to study locally and commute.

Your number one priority is to identify the right course and have confidence in that choice.

After which, you can think about whether to move out or commute. At University or College Open Days, it is helpful to speak to current students about how they made their decisions.

Degree or Higher Apprenticeships are great options if you are already confident of the career that you wish to pursue. These provide on-the-job experience and a higher education qualification and what’s more, there are no tuition fees.

However, an increasing number of full-time university or college degree courses offer work experience. These are often known as ‘Years in Industry’ or ‘Sandwich Degrees.’ These courses provide an opportunity to spend a year working in an industry related to your course. Usually taken in either Year 2 or Year 3 of the degree, they can also provide you with experience to equip you for the jobs market.

Typically, people who have a degree go on to earn more over the course of their lifetime when compared to those who leave education at age 18. They are also less likely to experience periods of unemployment.

But your choice of course, choice of university and the result of your degree can all be factors that can affect your future earnings.

However, don’t make your decisions based on earnings alone. Higher Education is about your personal development, new experiences and gaining a range of transferable skills which will serve you well in the long term.

And while some courses take you directly into a profession, many employers recruit regardless of the choice of degree subject, as they’re often more interested in the skills you have developed and how you will apply them.

University isn’t just for 'high-flying' students – but you will be expected to have completed some form of Level 3 study (e.g., A-levels, BTECs, T-levels or an Advanced Apprenticeship).

There are over 35,000 different higher education courses listed on UCAS. Some of these are vocational courses and provide alternatives to a degree.  A Higher National Diploma (HND) or a Foundation Degree can prepare you for a specific career. These can be studied full-time or as part of a Degree or Higher Apprenticeship.

As we start to emerge from the COVID pandemic, there will be even greater demand across the UK for workers who have higher-level skills. By this, we mean people with Level 4+ qualifications.

In the years ahead, expect to see more higher education qualifications that are vocational, and which provide alternatives to undergraduate degrees. These will be directly linked to job roles which are in demand.

You can use Labour Market Information to explore which occupations will be in most demand in the future. Websites such as Bridge GM can help.

You can study almost anything that interests you and it doesn’t have to be all academic-based. Courses can be practical, theory-based, creative – or a complete mixture.

If you like the sound of a course, take some extra time to gather information and find out more:

  • What is the content of the course?
  • How is it assessed?
  • How many achieve a ‘strong’ pass mark?
  • What have students who have completed the course gone on to do?

Always be prepared to ask the questions that matter to you at University and College Open Days.

Only the very highest earners will repay all their student loans – around 20% of all students. After 30 years, the student loan will be wiped completely regardless of how much you still have left to pay.

Martin Lewis from moneysavingexpert.com says:

“What you repay solely depends on what you earn after university. In effect, this is financially a ‘no win no fee’ education. Those who earn a lot after leaving university will repay a lot. Those who don’t gain too much financially from going to university will repay little or nothing."

You do not start repaying anything you have borrowed until you start earning £27, 295* or more after you have graduated.

Repayments are taken each month from your salary and are charged at 9% above the £27,295* threshold.

(*correct as of August 2021)


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