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Deciding to go to university is a big step and there are many different reasons for pursuing a degree. However, due to the rise of tuition fees in 2012, alongside an increase in student loan interest rates, student debt in the UK is on the rise. In fact, according to research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, graduates are now leaving university with an average debt of more than £50,000.
With higher education presenting a bigger financial commitment than ever before, many are now questioning if the advantages of a degree are worth the debt accrued.
The Pros of Getting a Degree
Career Opportunities. There are many professions for which a degree is mandatory, such as an architect, doctor or lawyer. However, even for those who attend university without a clear career path in mind, a degree can open more doors and provide further opportunities.
University Lifestyle. For many, one of the biggest appeals of university is the lifestyle. A chance to become independent, move away from home and meet new people are often driving factors when considering higher education. These life experiences can be very valuable, helping students to learn, grow and mature.
Earning Potential. Possessing a degree could mean higher earnings over the span of a career. As research reveals, the difference between graduate and non-graduate salaries is vast, with male graduates earning up to £170,000 more than their non-graduates counterparts, and female £250,000 more.
Subject Specialism. Going to university can be about more than career prospects or earning potential. For those with a love of learning, it represents a chance to specialise in their chosen field, learn from experts and immerse themselves in their passion.
The Cons of Getting a Degree
Other Options. For some, the expense of a degree can be off putting and there may be other options to enter their chosen field, including apprenticeships and internships. This can provide an alternative way to develop your career.
No Guarantees. While you may dream of entering a particular profession, gaining a degree is by no means a guarantee. Alternatively, you may change your mind and select a different career path after graduation.
Limited Experience. With many degrees – particularly in humanities subjects – there is little opportunity for a hands-on approach. Although graduates may leave university knowing the theory, many employers want to see experience, which may mean completing internships or entering low paid jobs.
To summarise, while there are many pros and cons to getting a degree, whether going to university is worth the cost is ultimately a very personal decision.