Monday, 16 August 2010

Let's be more Open

It's that time of year again, A-level results are out on Thursday. But this year we might not be subjected to the usual negative press about exams getting easier as more young people achieve As. This year, the focus is on the scarcity of university places available through clearing.

15 years ago I was waiting for my results to come out. It feels like yesterday, although writing "15 years" makes me realise it wasn't! I was hoping for a B and two Cs to get a place at Leeds to study Biochemistry, and I did really well (2 As, 2 Bs). Many of my friends, however, didn't achieve what they needed for their places and had to go through clearing. Everyone who wanted to go to university got a place in the end, even those with Ds and Es. Which is why I'm so surprised at the news that students with As are struggling to get places.

I expect there are places available, just not on "desirable" courses. I had to laugh at the young man on BBC Breakfast this morning who hadn't been able to take his place studying Medicine because he hadn't got an A in Chemistry, but he managed to get a place studying Biochemistry. (At university, the medical students referred to biochemists as failed medics, we had a great rivallry.)

I enjoyed my time at university, and I was fortunate to get a job a few months after graduation. But I'm not sure I could recommend going to university nowadays. With the average student debt reported as £24000, and with so many graduates unemployed for a year or two after graduation, is a degree really worth the effort? My advice would be to get a job after school, get some experience, earn some money. Spend a couple of years working and see if you really want and need a degree to get where you want to be.

If you still want a degree, consider studying part time for a degree with the Open University. They offer so many courses the one you want is bound to be available. You can also tailor a degree to suit your own interests. I obtained my MSc from the Open University. My dad got his BSc from them. My friend is currently studying for a maths degree with them. They are flexible, so you can work at the same time. Each module costs several hundred pounds, which breaks the overall cost down into manageable bits. And if you're lucky, your employer might offer to pay some or all of the fees for you.

There is nothing like being away from home for the first time, becoming independent, learning to live without your parents, meeting new people. But going to university for these reasons is, in my opinion, not sensible these days.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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