The decision about whether or not you should go to university or college is an important one. You will be taking three or four years out of the labour market - forgoing possible earnings during this time - whilst paying tuition fees of up to £9,250 per year. If you do decide HE is right for you, you must also think about the subject you want to study and where you want to study it. These decisions may have a bearing on your employment and earning opportunities throughout your life.

The reasons for deciding to go to university or college are different for everyone - some are to do with the experience of studying and living away from home and some are to do with future career ideas, for example:

  • You will have the opportunity to learn a new subject or learn more about a subject you already enjoy
  • Your career options are likely to be enhanced by holding a degree
  • A degree is required for many jobs, such as many of the healthcare professions, teaching, architecture and professional engineering
  • In some job sectors, such as IT, although you do not need a degree, many employers recruit graduates
  • On average, those who have been to HE earn more, and are more likely to be employed, than those who have not been
  • You will learn new skills associated with your course and new skills by living independently
  • Employment forecasts show that many new jobs will require the skills you gain by going to HE
  • You will have the opportunity to take part in activities outside the curriculum
  • You will probably have a good time and make new friends!

Many people decide that going to university or college is not right for them. Some reasons for not going, include:

  • You might be uncertain about what subject to study - will you like it? Will you be good at it and do well on your course?
  • You will have to repay your student loans
  • You might not get a graduate job. Nearly a third (31%) of graduates had more education than was required for the job they were doing in 2017, according to the Office for National Statistics* 
  • There are alternative ways of getting HE qualifications without having to pay tuition fees - such as higher and degree apprenticeships
  • The current recession is making the job market difficult for all - finding a job after you graduate is not guaranteed
  • Having a good degree is not always enough to secure a good job - you also need the employability skills that employers are looking for.

*Overeducation and hourly wages in the UK labour market; 2006 to 2017, April 2019