WOMAN: Great debate – The university of life?

By Lisa Harrison | Lifestyle | Published:

You’ve stuck it out at school until your 18 but what next? Do you continue your education and head off to university or take the big step into the world of full-time work? Woman debates the issue. . .

University or not?

FOR: Lisa Williams says university is an adventure

Going to university is an experience, both positive and negative. It was the obvious next step after two years of A-levels and an extension of time in which to further education and also to figure out plans for the future.

But university isn’t just about academia and gaining even more knowledge, it’s about living away from home and all that is familiar to you along with learning to be responsible, looking after yourself and managing your own finances.

It’s a steep learning curve which eventually forces you to become an adult. All of a sudden you’re pushed into a situation with no nagging to get homework done, no ‘daddy cabs’ ferrying you about and no mum’s meals on the table. You’ve got to fend for yourself and it’s sink or swim time.

OK, so you may be constantly overdrawn and living off pasta and beans on toast but surely this will only fuel your motivation to do well.

It would have been all too easy to live at home with the parents, get a job and pay minimal rent and live the life you’ve become oh-so accustomed to.

But moving away is a great experience – it forces you to face your fears, meet new people and become your own person without the influences of your parents of siblings. You see life differently and get an understanding of what it’s like to be an actual adult and get yourself up in the morning to attend lectures without the live-in wake-up call. It can be a nerve-wracking and confusing time but it does allow you to develop both emotionally and academically.

It’s also all too easy to get swept up in a world of drinking, partying and because of this new-found independence gaining a bit of a ‘know it all all’ attitude. Never a good thing. You may even find yourself missing home, your family and friends but university is only 30 weeks of the year and you get extended holidays compared with schools, so plenty of time to kick back and relax.


But at some point you know you’ll come to the end of your three or four-year course and have to make some pretty tough decisions regarding your future and that’s a good thing. It will help shape your work ethic and make you strive to get the job you really want so it’s all been worthwhile.

AGAINST: Emily Bridgewater asks do you need a degree?

To go, or not to go: that is the question.

Even though I didn’t go to university I can still quote Shakespeare’s Hamlet.


You see, a degree no longer marks you out as ‘clever’, because so many people now have them.

Forty per cent of 18-year-olds are destined for one of 130 universities in the UK. And yet I struggled to believe that more than a third of the population is markedly intelligent.

How do the truly brilliant people now get recognition? Not only are they required to have degrees from Oxford or Cambridge, they then have to study for Master’s Degrees and PHDs.

Don’t get me wrong, I think university is a wonderful thing – but it shouldn’t be for everyone.

Degrees should be for those who want to go into a career which requires a higher level of thinking. And I’m not talking about a graduate scheme at Debenhams; no career in retail should demand a degree.

If you’re following dreams to become a doctor, lawyer, dentist or academic professor, university is essential.

However, for many, I believe it’s a waste of time. And an expensive waste of time at that. Latest reports show the average student leaves university saddled with £32,000 of debt – that’s a rather costly hangover.

Yet applications through UCAS, the ubiquitous university entry scheme, are through the roof.

Three years at university has now become a right of passage rather than a privilege, a reward for exceptionally hard work. ‘Good life experience’ is how teens justify their university place; subtext for repeatedly drinking yourself into a stupor, failing to turn up for lectures and scraping through your studies.

And our darling Government supports this because, while teenagers remain inside a costly education system, they stay out of unemployment figures.

I’d rather see the number of university places reduced, and have them funded for the most academically gifted kids.

And so, before you go off to university, consider whether the job at the end of it really needs it. Otherwise you may as well get yourself a place at the University of Life.

Lisa Harrison

By Lisa Harrison

Deputy Weekend Editor, based at E&S head office in Wolverhampton. Works on Weekend and Woman supplements. Features include celebrity, real life, fashion, homes, beauty and general lifestyle content.


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