Third of young people think university degree is ‘a waste of time’

University graduation - Moment RF
University graduation - Moment RF

A third of young people believe a university degree is “a waste of time”, a new poll showed as lecturers across the country went on strike on Wednesday.

The poll of 2,000 people found 32 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds agree with the statement that “a university degree is a waste of time”, while 22 per cent disagree.

It marks an increase on the previous year, when 27 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds said they agreed with the statement.

The survey, conducted by the UPP Foundation and Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), also found that 58 per cent believe “a university degree does not prepare students for the real world”.

Lectures and seminars at universities were cancelled on Wednesday as 70,000 staff began an unprecedented period of strike action over pay, working conditions and pensions.

The University and College Union expects 2.5 million students to be affected by 18 days of strikes during February and March.

‘Universities need to do more’

The poll also found 71 per cent believe the cost of living and economic crisis will deter people from going to university in the next few years, and over half agree that the Government should provide additional financial support to students.

Despite this, just 10 per cent of respondents put students among the top three groups they would prioritise for support with the cost of living, compared with 57 per cent for those on minimum wage, 47 per cent for pensioners and 42 per cent for families with young children.

Almost two thirds believe that “students should expect to work part time to cover their living costs while at university”.

Only 18 per cent of respondents had visited a university this academic year,  and over half of those from the lowest social grade (DE) had never visited one at all.

Nick Hillman, the director of HEPI said: “A sustained advocacy job will need to be done either side of the next general election if more people are to understand the true value of higher education.

“One of the most dispiriting findings is how many people have only very rarely, or never, knowingly visited – or even apparently engaged passively with – a university. It is clear universities need to do more to welcome people onto campus and to make their activity more visible.”