The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) announced last week that new research suggests students will leave university with debts totalling almost £51,000.
The findings make for worrying reading for the numerous students in the Banbury area currently or planning on entering further education.
After interest rates of 6.1 percent are factored into the repayment of fees and other monetary loans the average student debt is £50,800, almost double that of a graduate in the USA.
As a result students are finding other avenues down which to continue with their further education and more inventive and cost effective ways are being created with each passing year. They include;
• Working for a company which will take on the cost of education.
Sometimes called sponsored degrees these provide not only tuition fees but also a guarantee of employment after completion. Be Wiser Insurance working with academics from The University of Chichester and Peter Symonds College created the first degree in insurance which pays undergrads a salary of £20,000 and covers fees. After graduation students are offered a management level job.
• Studying at other European universities.
Brexit may erode this opportunity to future generations but currently there are options to study for free or at very low cost in countries such as Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Austria and Greece.
• Local college partnerships.
Banbury and Bicester College and many more across the UK work with universities to offer university quality education at a lower rate. Banbury and Bicester College work in partnership with Oxford Brookes University, the NHS and Thames Valley Police to offer vocational university level training.
It is not as far fetched as it seems but many students have reached out to the wider community to raise funds for university education.
One case in point is Sarah Atayero from Luton managed to raise over £6,000 from 210 ‘backers’ to help with her MSc at King’s College London.
• Armed Forces - Royal Navy.
Students who wish to pursue a career in the navy as a Royal Marine officers, or officers in the warfare, logistics or fleet air arm branches and have one or more years left of university education can apply.
There is also the guarantee of a job at the completion of the course.
Another avenue, and one that has gained a lot of momentum over the past decade, are apprenticeships. Far from being just open to hands on trades, apprenticeships now offer training in all manner of blue and white collar careers to a level reaching that of a university education.
One of the growing number of companies in Banbury now offering industry standard apprenticeship training is accountancy firm Whitley Stimpson.
They are just two years into the scheme which offers Audit and Assurance training and a path into accountancy without the need for a degree.
After weighing up his options, including going to university, last year Luke Clives, from Banbury, became the first ever apprentice with the firm at their Hightown Road, Banbury location.
Luke said: “I always wanted to go to university until the end of year 11, starting college.
“Then when you realise it actually costs a lot. I started looking into apprenticeships. Earning money while you learn is always good.”
Luke will be working towards an Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) Certificate in Finance and will lead to Luke becoming a fully fledged chartered accountant. Luke said: “It’s broken down into three years. The first set is 18 months and that’s six exams and you have course work alongside that.”
Whitley Stimpson provide Luke with a mentor while he learns and will have a job for him after successful completion but do not demand a minimum working term from the apprentice relying instead on a reciprocity of trust and commitment. Luke said: “I’ve been surprised with how much I’ve learnt. I was expecting to come in and do odd jobs and make the tea but you do get given good jobs, they want to teach you up. It benefits both sides doing it that way.”
Like many students Luke thought the only avenue into accountancy was via university but college advisers pointed him towards apprenticeships and he hasn’t looked back.
Luke said: “It’s the best of both worlds, experience and learning.”