These days, with increasing tuition fees, you may be wondering if university is the right choice for your son or daughter, and what the alternatives are. We have put together an easy guide to help you find out more about the options available.
Going to university is a great way to extend their knowledge in a subject they enjoy, or even to try something new. If they have a career in mind, then many courses also offer work placements, making them more attractive to prospective employers in many industries.
University is more than just an education – university life offers a unique opportunity to get to know a diverse range of people and cultures, develop independence and confidence, and try new activities. It’s not just for people with A levels in academic subjects – around 95% of universities currently accept BTECs, for over 70% of degree subjects. At UCLan, we also offer Foundation Entry degrees, for students who may have perhaps chosen the wrong A Levels or not quite got the results they were expecting. It’s also worth remembering that over 93% of our graduates are in employment within six months of graduating.
There are four levels of apprenticeships available to suit a range of people. They are ideal if your son or daughter has a clear idea what career path they want to pursue. UCLan’s new professional degree level apprenticeships are vocational degree programmes, which combine academic study with practical work experience. All UK apprenticeship programmes provide practical, on-the-job training, and classroom-based instruction. They will earn while they learn and here are no student fees, but they need to approach employers rather than universities or colleges. You can find out more about different types of apprenticeships on www.gov.uk.
Perhaps your child is unsure about whether they want to go to university? Gap years can help develop transferable skills eg learning to budget on trips abroad, whilst living and working alongside local people in a different country will raise their cultural awareness. There’s plenty of help and advice available on www.gov.uk when thinking of going abroad for a gap year. Doing things for themselves also helps increase confidence and independence, and they may even find that they pick up new skills or learn a new language at the same time. If they want to remain in the UK, there are lots of employment opportunities and trainee positions for school leavers. Some people even choose to work first and go to university a few years later when they have a better idea of what they really want.
An internship is the opportunity to work at a company to learn new skills and gain experience in a particular industry or job role. They are a perfect stepping stone into employment, and can take the form of volunteering, a work placement, work shadowing or school leaver programmes. They can last from a few days to a few weeks or longer, and can be paid or unpaid, depending on the chosen company.
Competition for places however is high, so they need to do their research, decide what they want to get out of it and apply early. There is more information on www.gov.uk.
If studying really isn’t an option, then they need to research into what jobs they can do to start developing essential skills and experience whilst increasing future employability. Having work experience and building up a CV will make them more attractive to employers, and will open up more job opportunities in the future, once they have a chosen career path. They may even start with a part time job, or with a volunteering role, or may look into starting their own business.
There’s plenty of help available at www.gov.uk and who knows, they may even reconsider university at a later date.