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.