Is it worth going to university?

With reports that some students resort to sex work to make ends meet, Lizzie Fletcher wonders if a degree is worth the cost.

By Lizzie Fletcher

It’s a strange time being a student. For many, it’s their first experience of living away from home, and with that newfound freedom comes unforeseen problems.

While it’s great not having to answer to anyone or live by your parents’ rules, there’s the small matter of having to manage your own money.

    The debt actually gets wiped after 30 years.  

A recent BBC article told the story of a man who engaged in sex work to make ends meet during his university studies.

He isn’t the only person to go to such lengths. Save The Student’s Student Money Survey reveals that around 4pc of students have engaged in some sort of adult work. This may not sound like an especially high number, but it could represent as many as 70,000 people. 

Now, some people undertake this sort of work through choice and enjoy it. But it is an unfortunate truth that many fall into it simply because they see no other way to make the money they need to keep afloat.

The money issues don’t cease once you’ve graduated, either. It’s no secret that student debt is on the rise. The average debt among those graduating in 2018 was £36,000, and many become caught in a debt trap.

Student loan repayments do not begin until earnings exceed £25,000 a year, which means many graduates don’t start paying immediately. Trouble is, interest starts accruing the minute you graduate, so your debt increases even while you’re unable to begin paying it off.

And even though the average graduate salary is around £23,000, not everyone scores a job worth that much. The best-paid jobs are much coveted and extremely competitive. Which means many recent grads find themselves in minimum-wage roles with no hope of repaying their debts. Small wonder so many feel overwhelmed.

All of which begs the question: is a university education worth it? Not everyone thinks so, with many school leavers turning to alternatives such as apprenticeship schemes. These offer the opportunity to earn and learn at the same time, meaning your bank balance actually grows rather than pushing into the red.

Even so, statistics show that graduates still have higher employment rates than non-graduates. They also earn more money over the course of their career.

It’s worth bearing in mind that a student loan is a very different type of debt to a typical bank loan. The bailiffs won’t be knocking on your door if you aren’t making payments, and the debt actually gets wiped after 30 years.

And besides, going to university is about a lot more than gaining a degree or enhancing your employment prospects. The experience of living away from home for the first time and having to make decisions for yourself is invaluable.

Stories of students turning to sex work as a last resort are undeniably uncomfortable to read. But take the right approach to your finances and your lifestyle and going to university is a decision you’re unlikely to regret.

    Not only will you be paid for your time  

Making ends meet: five great ways to earn money while studying

1. Take part in market research: from focus groups to telephone interviews, get paid for giving your honest opinions on brands you use.

2. Sell your old stuff: from books to clothes, we’ve all got things we don’t need or use anymore. Textbooks are especially good for this. You earn money while helping other students save theirs. Perfect.

3. Freelance writing: the great thing about freelancing is that you can choose the hours you want to work. If you have a knack with words and can write to a brief, this can be a nice little earner.

4. Ticket selling/promotions: sell your fellow students tickets to local club nights. Not only will you be paid for your time, you’ll often be offered free entry to the events you promote.

5. Tutoring: offer your services as a tutor to GCSE or A level students. This can be a lucrative activity that makes good use of your developing knowledge and intellectual skills.


Published 30 October 2019

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

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