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Most People In The Uk Do Not Go To University

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Almost everyone goes to university nowadays, everyone knows that.

Except that not everyone does and we rarely see accurate statistics about how many or what proportion of people actually do. It's quite an important question, bound up with thorny issues of workforce skills, educational aspiration and, of course, how (and how much) the UK taxpayer funds our domestic higher education sector.

Against this backdrop came a widely-reported piece of analysis from the department of business, innovation and skills (BIS) on the Higher Education Initial Participation Rate (HEIPR), which examines participation rates for 17-30-year-old English domiciled first-time participants in higher education in the UK, including outside England.

Higher education in this context means every kind of accredited higher education course, from two-year foundation degrees delivered at a local further education college, to PhDs from Cambridge. This time round, the HEIPR stood at 49%, up from 46% last year. The media duly reported that almost half of all young people went to university in 2011/12.

They didn't. The HEIPR is an odd beast and it doesn't measure what you think it might measure. The methodology involves finding the proportion of people at each age from 17 to 30 who are involved in university for the first time – and then summing all of those participation rates.

The resulting rate is designed to equate roughly to the probability that a 17-year-old will participate in higher education by the age of 30. It doesn't measure the proportion of young people going into higher education. Nor does it tell us what proportion of people has a degree – and it shouldn't be presented as if it does.

What if we do want to know this information? Where do we go? Well, there are a couple of places. The first is government datasets. The Annual Population Survey involves a sample of 155,000 households and 360,000 people, and is rigorously audited. It is good data and you can interrogate it using Nomis, a service from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Using Nomis, we can see that in 2012, 34.4% of the working age population of Great Britain, aged 16 to 64, achieved NVQ4+ (a degree-level or equivalent qualification or above). You can check my working if you like – here is the report I ran. Related data reveals that 40.2% of those in work have a degree or equivalent – unsurprisingly, degree holders are more likely to be in work than those without.

We can also get data from the census. This has some advantages – a much, much larger sample – and some disadvantages – it's only taken every 10 years. Fortunately, we had one in 2011, so the data is still quite relevant.

It's now possible to examine census data yourself using Nomis, but the ONS also produced a report of some of the key facts in December 2012, which found that 27.2% of the population aged 16 to 74 had a degree or equivalent or higher – about 12 million people all told. This proportion is lower than the proportion for 16 to 64-year-olds because of the much smaller participation rates for the 64-74 age group covered by the census.

What none of this addresses is the proportion of people that the UK needs educated to degree level. That's even trickier, as the nature of work changes with time. A modern economy with rapidly-developing technology like ours tends to demand more skills and qualifications as time goes on. The recent Skills and Employment Survey found that 26% of jobs in the economy explicitly require a degree – or, put another way, if you don't go to university, more than a quarter of jobs are inaccessible to you.

If we then return to the APS data for the whole country and look at jobs in the managerial, professional and associate professional categories – those that are deemed 'graduate level' – we find they make up 43.6% of the jobs in the economy. This doesn't mean that some graduates aren't currently working in sub-graduate level jobs – they are – but it does suggest that we have room for a few more graduates yet.

In short, it's not actually very easy to work out what proportion of the UK population has degrees (nor how many more or less graduates the economy needs). Depending on which dataset you study, it's 27.2% or 34.4% or 40.2% of the population. It certainly isn't 49%. Most people don't go to university and current data suggests that most people in the UK never will.

Gordon Brown's dream of 50% of the population with degrees..... ram it.

Even 30% is too many chiefs.

A degree is simply your ticket out of Britain, or, a life spent in mediocrity chasing the HPI dragon.

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Starts off talking about young people going to university in 2011/12. Then says "The methodology involves finding the proportion of people at each age from 17 to 30 who are involved in university for the first time..."

Then looks at figures for people aged 16-64 and 16-75.

Eh?

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Social mobility was highest in the 70s and 80s, before university was seen as neccessary for any job from bin man up.

America has 58% university penetration and not surprisingly produces millions of morons.

Germany stuck with apprenticeships and has the wests lowest youth unemployment.

Why is the guardian so obsessed with carting everyone off to university? could it be not about equipping them for careers, but because universities are actually marxist indoctrination camps? (with the primary financial purpose of funding leftist lecturers and their unions, not for the financial improvement of students)

either

1) half the number of university places to what it was in the 70s/80s

2) Accept its just a means of getting chindian money and sell off and privatize the lot.

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Social mobility was highest in the 70s and 80s, before university was seen as neccessary for any job from bin man up.

America has 58% university penetration and not surprisingly produces millions of morons.

Germany stuck with apprenticeships and has the wests lowest youth unemployment.

Why is the guardian so obsessed with carting everyone off to university? could it be not about equipping them for careers, but because universities are actually marxist indoctrination camps? (with the primary financial purpose of funding leftist lecturers and their unions, not for the financial improvement of students)

either

1) half the number of university places to what it was in the 70s/80s

2) Accept its just a means of getting chindian money and sell off and privatize the lot.

Good quality apprenticeships would be great. Who is going to provide them?

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1) half the number of university places to what it was in the 70s/80s

2) Accept its just a means of getting chindian money and sell off and privatize the lot.

Both of those things have effectively happened in the faculty I work in. Our revenue is basically as follows, in the last full academic year:

70% from non-EU taught postgrads

6% from non-EU research postgrads

13% from UK/EU undergrads

5% from UK/EU postgrads

4% from research grants.

2% from consultancy and other commercial activity.

(revenue from non-EU undergrads is insignificant - two or three students a year at most)

For the last several years we have been reducing the number of UK/EU undergrads we admit in order to free up academics' time to concentrate on, essentially, Chinese master's students.

Edited by The Ayatollah Buggeri

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Starts off talking about young people going to university in 2011/12. Then says "The methodology involves finding the proportion of people at each age from 17 to 30 who are involved in university for the first time..."

Then looks at figures for people aged 16-64 and 16-75.

Eh?

Quite... lets see the degree numbers for age 22-27

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Gordon Brown's dream of 50% of the population with degrees..... ram it.

Even 30% is too many chiefs.

A degree is simply your ticket out of Britain, or, a life spent in mediocrity chasing the HPI dragon.

Exactly right. 30% is just a total devaluation of degree level education. Exactly the same as introducing the ridiculous A* 'A-Level grade because everyone was getting A grades. It is just about making people feel better about themselves (and the country) whilst actually doing the opposite.

We need further progress on finding the right candidates to go to a much smaller set of better universities. For years it has been harder for state school pupils to go and the £9k annual tuition fee just makes it harder. There must be many exceptional candidates each year who now refuse to go because of that extra £27k debt.

Conversely, the £27k means very little to legions of upper class dunces whose parents have been paying more than that for private school each year anyway.

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Good quality apprenticeships would be great. Who is going to provide them?

Good question.......even throwing money at it is not working, more demand than supply... http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-22721432

This does mean more apprenticeship places are needed and the focus should remain on quality of the apprenticeship offered by employers.

As ever quality wanted not quantity....meaning take the money then abandon the apprentice. ;)

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Why is the guardian so obsessed with carting everyone off to university?

Not all, just the right sort of kids.............

They want to buy certain kids an advantage over others via education as opposed to wealth. If you have got a couple of social worker parents who went to university and programmed their sprogs to pop out at the start of the term from September-December and tutor them at home they will be A graders even if they are naturally thick. Meanwhile some August child born to a procariat parent with no interest in education will fail even if they are a natural genius. Just replacing one uneven playing field with another.

Edited by crashmonitor

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getting 50% of the population is nothing to do with getting them degrees.

Its getting 3 more years where they wont register for Unemployment.

Sort of QE for the Employment Stats.

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don't hold back will you.

honestly,how left wing are most lecturers and thereafter,lecturers in general?

Let me have my fun!

Actually, my only openly 'left wing' lecturers (at Sheffield and Nottingham unis) were yanks...go figure. If the British ones were left wing they at least kept their views to themselves.

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getting 50% of the population is nothing to do with getting them degrees.

Its getting 3 more years where they wont register for Unemployment.

Sort of QE for the Employment Stats.

And borrow the benefits into the bargain

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getting 50% of the population is nothing to do with getting them degrees.

Its getting 3 more years where they wont register for Unemployment.

Sort of QE for the Employment Stats.

Absolutely. The figure was 14% in the 1980s (1 in 7), a little higher than I thought, perhaps the expansion started back then.

50% of kids, given a higher education with the aspirations that goes with it (aspiration one of those words politicians love), and not enough jobs for them.

So too many students loaded with £9k x 3 years of debt, plus debt for living costs (gone are the summer/Saturday jobs of old), housing costs at eye watering levels thanks to bubbleomics practised by our useless politicians and then having to support the ageing population, accounting for 50% of welfare spending, on top of healthcare spending - of course, because oaps vote, the young starting out in life will have to suck it up.

Tragic.

Edited by tinker

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  • 239 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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