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(adapted from: http://www.science-engineering.net)
the original text was written by Margaret Hodge,
Lifelong Learning and Higher Education Minister

In the early sixties, in the UK only one in twenty school leavers went to university. Today it is one in three. More adults are taking a degree in their twenties too.

Britain needs more people with degrees and more skilled workers with higher technician and associate professional qualifications in the years ahead. Over the next 10 years most of the new jobs will need people who have the skills and education higher education offers. That's why the Government wants half of all young people under 30 to experience the benefits of higher education.

But getting a degree not only boosts your education and skills, it improves your ability to earn a good living too. Graduates earn on average of 35 per cent more than the average wage - or £400,000 more over a lifetime than somebody on average earnings.

There may be different reasons why some of students who have the potential to benefit from university feel it is not for them. Sometimes it is because nobody in their family or on their street has been to university. For others, it may be worries about how much it will cost - and finding the fees.

But there's a lot more help available than one might think. And the aim of the Ministry of education of Great Britain is to talk to young people about the benefits of higher education and the support on offer to them.

There are plenty of different courses, which can help the youngsters to make the most of themselves. Many young people decide to go to work after school or college, and go on to university a bit later on. In fact, a third of all undergraduates are not school leavers. There are many full and part-time courses and most universities have particular programmes designed to support mature students.

The government has also introduced new vocational foundation degrees. In areas like applied engineering, hotel management and multi-media technology, they will help students get promoted and lead to better jobs.

Anyway, university degree is good value for money. Extra learning does lead to extra earnings. And there's already lots of help available while young people study.


(adapted from: http://www.science-engineering.net)

The UK has more than 250 universities or specialist colleges offering over 40,000 higher education programmes. These are mainly degree and higher national diploma courses and are, to a large extent, what you go on to after school or FE college, aged around 17 to 19 and armed with A levels, GNVQ, Scottish Highers or some other equivalent. You can, however, leave it for a while and return to higher education later in your life.

Our economy needs more graduates and has invested massively in expanding the number and range of higher education courses. But it is so difficult to make the right choice! If you decide that higher education is for you - and it is a very sensible choice for a lot of bright people - make sure that you take the time and trouble to find a course and a university that match your personal requirements.

Remember: Higher Education can be (and usually is) one of the most exciting, rewarding and valuable periods of your life - but it is vital to do your research first!

Navigate the system. Get a feel of what is available and where. Why should you follow one course rather than another? Do you want to train for a specific career? Do you want to be on the coast or in a big city centre?

Ask - questions. And when you have the answers you need, ask more questions. An enquiring mind is a priceless asset! Use the web, e-mail, 'phone, fax…you could even go and talk to people face to face. Ask those around you: family, friends, teachers, careers advisers and so on. If you don't ask, you may never know.

Search - All universities have websites. All produce glossy prospectuses. Other people produce software and books containing valuable data. Search. Sift. Compare. Choose.

Apply - Most higher education providers in the UK - apart from the Open University - are part of the UCAS centralized applications system. You can apply on old-style paper or you can do it all electronically.

Ask questions! Before you choose a university!

Ask yourself - and anyone else whose opinion you value - the following questions:

1. Do I have a particular career in mind?
2. Am I seeking a higher education qualification as a requirement for initial entry to a specific profession?
3. Do I just want to chill out for a while, maturing gradually and developing my thought processes?
4. Is there a specific subject I want to explore thoroughly?
5. Do I want to develop my key skills?
6. Do I want to make myself generally more employable?
7. Do I want a clean break from my present circumstances and the chance to make a fresh start?
8. Do I want to study full-time / part-time / by distance learning, at home / away from home?
9. Can I afford it?
10. What are the alternatives?

These are not the sort of questions that have simple right or wrong answers. In fact, an answer which may appear right now might well look wrong (and vice versa!) when your personal circumstances change in, say, 10 years time. All you can hope to do is gather all the available evidence, weigh up all the pros and cons and make the decision which best relates to your current priorities and circumstances.

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