Advantages of going to university 'less than they were', says ISC chair

Schools need to keep an eye on degree apprenticeships, according to the chair of the Independent Schools Council

Eleanor Busby

News article image

The advantages of going to university are "less than they were", the chair of the Independent Schools Council (ISC) said today.

Barnaby Lenon, ISC chair, said this morning that independent schools should “keep an eye” on degree apprenticeships as an alternative to the traditional route into higher education.

Speaking to attendees of a Westminster Education Forum event today, Mr Lenon said “accurate, up-to-date” university entry advice is “more important” than ever as the quality of universities varies.

He said: “Far too many students these days sign up to a course at university as they believe that’s the only option for them.”

'Lack of value'

But Mr Lenon noted that recent government data showed that the average earnings of some male graduates at the “weakest” universities suggested a lack of value in going to the institution.  

“I would say that the advantages of going to university may seem slightly less now than they were."

On degree-apprenticeships, Mr Lenon said: “The number of subjects and companies will grow and the expectation is that it will grow quite quickly.

“If you know you want to be a management consultant, you can go to a good firm like KPMG and they will pay for you to go to university for three years."

He added: “[Going to university] is still going to be the correct route for the vast majority of our students, but it would be a shame if people who are responsible for careers advice in our schools weren’t keeping an eye on these sort of developments.”

In response to a question about whether independent schools can learn lessons from cost-efficient large MATs, Mr Lenon said they could because of “the tremendous economies of scale they achieve.”

He said: “The fact that they can employ subject specialists. They can employ an outstanding maths teacher who roves around these schools, upgrading the quality of maths teaching, and even stepping in if a teacher is ill for a while. That seems to me to be an enormous benefit.”

Mr Lenon suggested that independent schools should contact academy chain United Learning – which includes both private and state schools - to find out about possible benefits.

“The merits of being partnered with other schools […] seem to me to be many,” he said. 

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow Tes on Twitter and Instagram, and like Tes on Facebook.

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Latest stories

Plastic bottles and cigarettes at the beach

We need a national education campaign to stop littering

Pictures of piles of rubbish at beaches and other beauty spots since lockdown eased show that schools alone cannot stop the scourge of littering - we need a public information campaign
Deborah Hollingsworth 4 Jul 2020
september guidance

Why schools should avoid rows and one-way systems

The government has set schools a logistical puzzle to maintain social distancing in September, so we asked two leading building design experts for their advice for school leaders
Jon Severs 3 Jul 2020