Published On: Mon, Jun 9th, 2014 on 1:31 pm

High costs putting people off higher education courses

Higher Education Costs

Image courtesy: The Northern Council for Further Education

An educational charity has reported that the high cost of further education has prevented almost half of UK adults gaining advanced qualifications.

The Northern Council for Further Education (NCFE) surveyed 2,000 adults across the UK after figures showed the average graduate debt is £53,000 as tuition fees rose in September 2012.

Some of those surveyed said they were too old (36%) and family commitments were also a factor (24%) when deciding to undertake a further education course.

The NCFE also found a lack of graduates in technical disciplines, which has led to a significant skills gap due to the demand for university degrees over the past 20 years.

There has been a 140% increase in the number of people studying medicine, and a 162% increase in degrees in mass communications and media studies between 2000 and 2012.

In the past couple of years, the government has put more money into apprenticeships, and it is predicted that vocational courses will peak in 2050.

With an average of 250 people applying for each corporate job and with 20% of graduate’s unemployed in their first six months after finishing university, vocational courses have seen a strong demand.

Chief Executive at the NCFE, David Grailey, said: “With graduate debt so high, it’s natural that people have started to look at alternative options to kickstart their careers.”

But a report recently published by the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) said Britain’s economy will be ‘unable to compete’ globally if vocational education is not improved.

Commissioned by the Edge Foundation charity to mark Vocational Qualifications Day, it said many of the jobs expected to drive economic growth and mobility in the future would be accessible with a vocational qualification.

Jan Hodges OBE, CEO of the Edge Foundation, said: “This research clearly demonstrates that we must continue to support high quality vocational education if we are to meet the needs of our future economy.”

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