Is the value of a degree decreasing?

Nearly every week I get the opportunity to express how glad I am that I chose an apprenticeship. So to avoid the repetitiveness, I shall go straight into my chosen topic for this week’s blog - University grade inflation.

In 2016 the number of 18 year olds accepted at university rose by 1.5 per cent to 238,900, the highest number recorded to date, despite a fall in the population of 18 year olds. Young people’s chances of entering higher education increased by around 4 per cent across the UK, reaching a record of 32.5 per cent in England. 

In 2017 one in three English 18-year-olds were placed on degree courses. The latest snapshot, taken four weeks after A-level results day, show that in both England and Scotland, entry rates have risen every year since 2013 - so there is no sign of these figures decreasing. 

Now, the proportion of students leaving university with top honours has reached record levels in the last five years. In 2017 more than 104,000 students - or one in four - graduated with a top degree classification.

Surely, with such a large quantity of school leavers attending University and now such a large number leaving with top honours the value of a degree with be less. Like any sort of inflation, the rise is only sustainable for a period of time, until a decrease of value becomes inevitable. I can only see the same happening with degrees. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line when this happens there will be a year group who may have achieved a top honour in previous years, who now won’t. This could potentially leave them in a situation where those who attended University one or two years before them, now take all the best jobs as on paper they look more qualified.

Now, I know I said I wouldn’t talk about apprenticeships – however, it seems strikingly obvious that the wisest decision you could make is to do a degree apprenticeship. Not only do you come out with a degree, but years of experience that puts you above the rest of the applicants for a job. That being said, a degree apprentice is already likely to have a job at the place they have completed their studies.

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