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Not going to uni?

April 13th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

It is not often that I quote the Strathclyde Telegraph. But Jo has pointed out to me this interesting article about how young people in the Uk are pressurised into going to univeristy when it may not be the bext option for them.

The article quotes research conducted by which “has found that nearly 40% of school leavers feel pressured into attending university by teachers, and 28% said that their parents expected them to take the academic route while a further 20% felt that university was the only career option being made available to them.”

It goes on to cite the Edge foundation who report “1 in 4 students are dropping out of university, with bad advice from careers services being held as one of the reasons: “It is clear that many people are not being advised on the best option for them and their future”.

A Yougov poll has also found that 65% of teachers feel that there is no clear progression for vocational qualifications, unlike the 85% who feel that there is such development for academic ones.

Sarah Clover, of commented on the findings:

“Despite the name we are in no way against university but sadly experience has shown that many careers advisors are ill equipped to provide guidance on vocational opportunities, leaving young people feeling that university is the only option available to them… careers advisors must be made to learn about the options outside of the traditional university route.”

This research shows the need for both an improvement in careers advice in the UK to include options other than univeristy but also the necessity to raise the prestige of apprenticeships. Ironically labour market data suggests that apprentices find it far easier to find employment than graduates. However the long term pay prospects for graduates remains better than that of apprentices. More flexible work based learning provision could allow progression routes from apprenticeship to higher qualifications. Alternatively, an extension of apprenticeship for graduates could both allow the development of work based skills and knowledge and develop more parity between the different routes.

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    News Bites

    Digital Literacy

    A National Survey fin Wales in 2017-18 showed that 15% of adults (aged 16 and over) in Wales do not regularly use the internet. However, this figure is much higher (26%) amongst people with a limiting long-standing illness, disability or infirmity.

    A new Welsh Government programme has been launched which will work with organisations across Wales, in order to help people increase their confidence using digital technology, with the aim of helping them improve and manage their health and well-being.

    Digital Communities Wales: Digital Confidence, Health and Well-being, follows on from the initial Digital Communities Wales (DCW) programme which enabled 62,500 people to reap the benefits of going online in the last two years.

    See here for more information

    Zero Hours Contracts

    Figures from the UK Higher Education Statistics Agency show that in total almost 11,500 people – both academics and support staff – working in universities on a standard basis were on a zero-hours contract in 2017-18, out of a total staff head count of about 430,000, reports the Times Higher Education.  Zero-hours contract means the employer is not obliged to provide any minimum working hours

    Separate figures that only look at the number of people who are employed on “atypical” academic contracts (such as people working on projects) show that 23 per cent of them, or just over 16,000, had a zero-hours contract.

    Resistance decreases over time

    Interesting research on student centered learning and student buy in, as picked up by an article in Inside Higher Ed. A new study published in PLOS ONE, called “Knowing Is Half the Battle: Assessments of Both Student Perception and Performance Are Necessary to Successfully Evaluate Curricular Transformation finds that student resistance to curriculum innovation decreases over time as it becomes the institutional norm, and that students increasingly link active learning to their learning gains over time

    Postgrad pressure

    Research published this year by Vitae and the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) and reported by the Guardian highlights the pressure on post graduate students.

    “They might suffer anxiety about whether they deserve their place at university,” says Sally Wilson, who led IES’s contribution to the research. “Postgraduates can feel as though they are in a vacuum. They don’t know how to structure their time. Many felt they didn’t get support from their supervisor.”

    Taught students tend to fare better than researchers – they enjoy more structure and contact, says Sian Duffin, student support manager at Arden University. But she believes anxiety is on the rise. “The pressure to gain distinction grades is immense,” she says. “Fear of failure can lead to perfectionism, anxiety and depression.”

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