University leavers lack the essential skills for work, employers warn

Large numbers of students are leaving university lacking the basic skills needed to get by in the workplace, according to new research.

More than half of employers said all or almost all graduate recruits started work without vital attributes, such as team work, communication, punctuality and the ability to cope under pressure.

A poll of company leaders found that just under one in five businesses believe graduates are “work ready”.

The conclusions will add to concerns that schools, colleges and universities are too focused on ensuring that young people pass exams at the expense of equipping them with life skills.

Experts also warned that it raised questions over the extent to which universities are spending tuition fee income on programmes designed to get students ready for work, particularly with the cost of a degree rising to £9,000 a year in England.

The YouGov research was based on a survey of 635 employers, including 419 directly responsible for recruiting graduates. In all, 52 per cent of graduate employers said none or few graduate recruits were work-ready when they joined, with 17 per cent claiming none of them were fit for the job.

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Two in three pupils fear university costs: They worry about living expenses and not being able to earn while studying

Pupils are worried about living expenses and not being able to earn while studyinggroup of adults maths

Two-thirds of children are worried about the cost of going to university even though they think it will help them ‘get on in life’, a new survey has revealed.

They are concerned about living expenses and not being able to earn while they study while those from middle-class backgrounds are most troubled by £9,000-a-year tuition fees.

The Ipsos MORI poll for the Sutton Trust surveyed 2,595 11 to 16-year-olds.

It classified them as being in families of high, medium or low affluence based on questions about their households.

It found that students from the least affluent families (23 per cent) were more likely to cite cost as the biggest consideration when deciding whether to go onto higher education than their richer counterparts (14 per cent).

However, middle-class youngsters – who miss out on means tested maintenance grants – are most affected by tuition fees (30 per cent) when worrying about all the costs.

This compared to 28 per cent of rich students and 26 per cent of poorer ones who agreed that fees were the ‘biggest concern’.

Overall, 65 per cent of students surveyed were worried about university finances – 28 per cent cited tuition fees; 19 per cent, the cost of living and 18 per cent, not earning while studying.

Only seven per cent said they were not troubled by the cost of going to university.

Higher university tuition fees ‘putting off working-class boys’

Boys are more likely to shun university as a result of the rise in tuition fees, according to new research.

In particular, the gender gap between working class boys and girls going to university is growing, the study, by the Independent Commission on Fees, shows.

Whilst overall acceptance rates among applicants from poorer homes have remained steady, the figures show 1,700 fewer boys from the 40 per cent of neighbourhoods with the lowest higher-education participation rates were accepted into university last year.

Will Hutton, chairman of the Commission, said the study showed the first year of higher fees had produced a worrying expansion of the university gender gap.

Overall, 112,300 young males (aged 17-19) got a place at university last year, a 1.4 per cent fall on 2010, compared with 135,100 young females (a 0.9 per cent rise).

Drop in young people applying to university

The Guardian reports today on new research conducted by City & Guilds which suggests that just under half of young people (47%) are less likely to apply to university following the increase in fees.

Of the 1,000 pupils surveyed, aged between 14 and 19, more than a quarter (29%) are considering alternative education such as vocational qualifications and apprenticeships, a quarter (24%) will go straight into employment and nearly a fifth (16%) will look for work experience or take a gap year.

The survey also highlighted that schools are still failing to highlight alternatives to university. Whilst 75% of pupils were told about their university options only 49% received information on vocational qualifications.

“University is still seen as superior, even though many are suited to – and therefore should pursue – more hands-on learning”, said Chris Jones, City & Guilds CEO. “Practical, work-based learning provides a valuable career progression route and gives learners the skills and confidence to succeed.”

Read the full story.

Nicki, Business Director

Top universities warn against ‘soft subjects’

A group of top UK universities has published guidance advising students to take traditional subjects at A-level.

The Russell Group warns students not to disadvantage themselves by picking the wrong subjects for their degree course.

It advises students to study at least two subjects from a list of “facilitating subjects” such as English and maths.

Otherwise courses at many competitive universities will not be open to them, it warns.

It is the first time the group of the UK’s 20 leading universities has published such all-embracing guidance on university entrance and course choice. Read more of this post

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