COMMENT: ‘Degree Or Not Degree? That is the question’

PUBLISHED: 12:30 14 January 2015

Exposure's Gabrielle Asare

Exposure's Gabrielle Asare


Exposure writer Gabrielle Asare mulls over whether these days a degree is actually worth a mountain of debt and three years spent at university.

The unemployment rate for young people is soaring. Joblessness for 16 to 24-year-olds has risen sharply in the current recession, currently standing at 16.6 per cent. To me, as a young person, this is terrifying.

We are constantly reminded about the importance of education in making something of your life. And many of us follow these protocols: school, college, university. But what happens next?

I recently graduated and am now beginning to understand the struggle others have gone through when entering the “big bad world”.

I was so excited to start applying for jobs; fresh, enthusiastic, eager and creative. But it was quickly apparent that being a graduate wasn’t enough, as recruiters constantly told me “you need more experience”.

All I wanted was the chance to prove myself but I was simply not given the opportunity. Degree certificates are seemingly useless without experience.

Looking into other ways to get my career going, I was shocked to find many options. Perhaps I should have been told this before deciding to spend three years studying for a degree!

An excellent example is the School Leavers Programme, essentially an apprenticeship for those who plump for the world of work over university. Recruits start earning immediately, and are likely to be at the same stage as a graduate after three years. At this point, they will have the experience and not £27,000 of tuition fee debt.

The programme isn’t perfect – it doesn’t apply to every industry, for example. But it is an alternative, and opinion seems to be shifting away from university being the only viable route to success.

I’m grateful for everything I learnt at university but the fact that nowadays anyone can borrow money and get a degree means degrees themselves are worth less.

It’s time for government and schools to proactively promote alternatives to university to ensure that fewer young people are saddled with debt, and more have the experience and skills most suited to their specific career choice.

+ Read more from a young person’s perspective at

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