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#ResultsDay2019: Has University Become the Default Option?
August 15, 2019

Thousands of students will be busy thinking about their next move. New research has found that around three quarters (72%) of school leavers across the UK are planning on going to University when they finish school, more than those planning on getting a job (10%), doing an apprenticeship (5%), or taking a gap year (4%).

However, despite the enduring popularity of university, 44% do not believe a degree will equip them for a job, admitting it will only delay entry into the world of work (8%). In fact, one in five (20%) believe that 2-3 years of work experience would better prepare them for their career. 13% of degree hopefuls also reveal their A-Level subjects do not even match their degree.

  • 72% of year 13 students are planning on going to university after finishing school yet almost half (44%) do not believe a degree will equip them for the world of work
  • With record unconditional offers, almost a third (30%) believe it’s easier to get into university than 10 years ago citing reasons such as degrees being less valuable (39%) and universities needing the funding (30% )
  • Just under half (46%) say that there isn’t enough career advice available when it comes to making important decisions post A-levels

With more unconditional offers to universities than ever before, and some universities set to go bust, it’s perhaps no surprise that 30% believe it’s easier to get into universities now than ten years ago. When asked why, students said it was due to the institutions needing more funding (30%), degrees becoming less valuable (39%) and universities worryingly offering more unconditional offers to increase student numbers pre-results day (53%).

These concerns echo those raised in the media in recently months, looking at a possible collapse of the university system as we know it today due to financial pressures.

With these perceived problems in mind, why are students still so drawn to a degree over qualifications such as an apprenticeship?

It may come down to the schooling system and pressures, with 43% saying they chose their A-Levels based on subjects that they would most likely to get good grades in, whilst 28% said there just wasn’t enough careers advice available when it comes to making importance decisions post A-Levels.

Students also believed universities could be doing more to champion alternatives, with almost half (49%) saying they should be offering more degree apprenticeships or creating internship / apprentice opportunities to students in line with their degree subject (41%).

Mark Creighton CEO, AVADO comments:

“A-Level Results Day is a stressful day for sixth-formers up and down the country, with thousands banking on their grades to cement their careers at university. But with so many readily believing that these future degrees won’t prepare them for their careers, why do they insist on going?

“Here at AVADO, the UK’s leading apprenticeship provider, we’re breaking the mould and today, we’re encouraging students to consider alternative options. Not only could you earn money whilst studying through degree apprenticeships, but you even could enter the world of work from the get go and leave that university debt and student life working across tech, HR and digital for innovative brands like Microsoft, Google and MTV.”


James Eiloart, Senior Vice President of EMEA, Tableau Software, said:

“The fact that nearly half of all young people do not believe university prepares them for a job suggests a worrying disconnect between the education system and the demands of the modern workplace. Addressing this challenge will require action on a number of different fronts.

“Britain is facing a looming skills gap in key areas such as data analytics. We must get away from the idea that universities alone should be responsible for sustaining the talent pool. We believe apprentice programmes have a vital role to play as a viable alternative to university that can deliver the new and emerging skills businesses require.

“We must also consider the skills businesses are demanding and ensure these are reflected in the way courses are taught at university. For example, analytical reasoning, data science and business analysis are currently amongst the top 25 most in-demand skills for today’s workforce – these skills will be crucial for young people as they enter tomorrow’s workplace, whatever career path they choose. Rather than hiving these off into a few technical subjects, we need to look more holistically at how data literacy and other core skills can be embedded into a far broader swathe of university courses.”

#ResultsDay2019: Young People Expect to Change Careers Twice in Lifetime
August 15, 2019

One in five (23%) young people expect to change careers twice during their working lifetime, according to research from the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT).

Its survey, of 1,001 16- to 24-year-olds in the UK, found that more than one in 10 (14%) expect to change careers three times and 16% expect to change careers once. Just 16% said they expected to not change career at all during their working life.

However, despite the UK workforce changing jobs at an ever-increasing rate today, one in 10 (9%) young people believe they will never change the company they work for, researchers said.

The research also found that many young people aspire to be their own boss, with more than two-fifths (43%) of 16- to 24-year-olds saying they have ambitions to set up their own business during their working life.

Those from a more disadvantaged background were found to be the most ambitious, with almost half (49%) of young people from a lower socio-economic background saying they want to start their own business. This compared to 46% from a middle socio-economic background and 44% with a higher socio-economic background.

Similarly, gender doesn’t act as a barrier to entrepreneurial ambition, with the findings revealing that young women are just as determined as young men to set up their own business (42% versus 44% respectively).

When asked how prepared they feel for the future workplace, respondents predicted they will need to upskill to remain suitable for jobs. The majority (61%) expect to have to upskill during their working life and 55% believe they will have to retrain over the course of their career in order to retain an advantage in the job market. The key skills young people believe they will need in the future workplace are communication skills (42%), problem-solving skills (35%) and tech skills (31%).

Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology at the University of Manchester, told HRmagazine he is “not surprised” that young people expect to have multiple careers.

“They are right to say they will change careers at least twice. This is partly because of new technology and AI, which is likely to deskill jobs and make them less satisfying over time,” he said.

“So young people will want to try something different and, for some, this will lead them to want to become an entrepreneur and start their own business.”

HR will need to find new, innovative ways of retaining young employees in order to compete with the lure of starting their own businesses, Cooper added.

“For HR this means if you want to retain young people – in a corporate or public sector body especially – you better make their jobs more interesting and, in a sense, let them develop a micro-entrepreneurial business within your business,” he said.

“You won’t retain them by being process driven which is what a lot of HR is now. So HR faces a challenge to break away from being process driven, to instead find ways to enable people to do something more innovative and creative. This means giving employees opportunities to have experiences both within and outside the organisation.”

Adam Harper, director of strategy and professional standards at AAT, added that businesses need to focus on supporting young people entering employment today. “It’s crucial that we support young people’s ambitions by providing them with the solid foundations and transferable skills they need to succeed in whatever career they choose, particularly when they are looking to start a business themselves,” he said.

Unemployment Fears at Five-Year High
August 15, 2019

People in the UK are more worried about losing their jobs today than they have been at any point over the past five and a half years, according to the latest figures from the ONS.

The Personal and economic well-being in the UK: August 2019 report, released 12 August, found that confidence in job security is low. People’s expectations for increasing joblessness have been climbing, with the net proportion of people expecting rising unemployment rates in the year ahead reaching 23.1% in the first quarter of 2019, the highest level since the second quarter of 2013. These growing fears come despite UK employment currently standing at the joint-highest rate on record (76.1%), according to the latest Labour market overview published today (13 August).

While all economic wellbeing measures improved in the first quarter of 2019, including household income and wealth, “people’s expectations for the economy for the year ahead are that it will worsen”, the ONS reported.

This falling confidence comes as concerns are mounting that the UK will leave the European Union without a deal, with prime minister Boris Johnson vowing to leave “come what may” by 31 October. Meanwhile separate ONS figures last week, showing that the UK has witnessed the first fall in quarterly GDP in six and a half years, have sparked concerns that the UK could be headed for a recession.

Amanda Mackenzie, chief executive of Business in the Community, said that economic and political uncertainty is causing UK employees to fear for their jobs.

“Prescient Brits have been expecting higher unemployment and for the general economic situation to deteriorate and, following last week’s negative GDP number, they may well be proved right,” she said.

“With a no-deal Brexit looming, the UK economy is arguably at its most crucial juncture for a decade and it’s no surprise people feel less secure about their jobs and the broader economic picture. In 10 weeks or so we could be entering the economic and political unknown and this uncertainty is understandably on people’s radars.”

The report also looked at personal wellbeing in the UK. Personal wellbeing showed very little change, with anxiety remaining stable in the year ending March 2019, the ONS said. The data found that almost one in five (19.8%) UK adults continued to report high levels of anxiety.

While people reported slightly higher happiness ratings, rising from 7.52 to 7.56 out of 10 in the last year, about 4.2 million people continued to report “low” levels of happiness.

Gail Kinman, professor of occupational health psychology at the University of Bedfordshire, told HR magazine that fears over employment and the economy are closely linked to personal wellbeing.

“Studies have found that job insecurity is one of the most profound and widespread workplace fears. It can be a major source of stress and anxiety for individuals and their families,” she said.

ESFA Update: 14 August 2019

Latest information and actions from the Education and Skills Funding Agency for academies, schools, colleges, local authorities and further education providers

ESFA Update further education: 14 August 2019
ESFA Update academies: 14 August 2019
ESFA Update local authorities: 14 August 2019
Items for further education
Actionhow to claim exceptional learning support for 2019 to 2020
Actionimpact of McCloud judgement on colleges
Reminderchange in payment dates
Informationcyber crime and cyber security guide for education providers
Information2019 to 2020 student transfer process for pre-existing qualifications
Informationdevolution of the adult education budget, effective from 1 August 2019
Informationchanges to the Student Bursary Support Service (SBSS)
Informationnew feature in the 2019 to 2020 apprenticeship funding rules
Informationdata returns for 2019 to 2020
Informationapprenticeship service opens for small and medium sized apprenticeship employers and supporting training providers who signed up to test the service

Items for academies

Information2019 to 2020 school census guide
Informationcyber crime and cyber security guide for education providers
Informationchanges to the Student Bursary Support Service (SBSS)

Items for local authorities

Information2019 to 2020 school census guide
Informationcyber crime and cyber security guide for education providers
Informationchanges to the Student Bursary Support Service (SBSS)

Published 14 August 2019

#ResultsDay2019: Help Your Students to Fully Understand the Options Available to Them
August 15, 2019

Young people all across the country will be feeling many mixed emotions from excitement to worry and nervousness.

Remind them that exam results aren’t everything and they will always have options regardless of the outcome!

Save the Date

Today (14th Aug) is vocational results day. A Level results day is the 15th August and GCSE results day is the 22nd August. For Scottish students results day for A Levels and GCSEs is on the 6th August. 

Students can usually pick their results up from school or sixth form at around 10am but this will depend on the exam centre (the school or sixth form).

If you’re a teacher who will be there on the big day, ensure you’re there to offer the young person support. If they did well make sure they know what a big achievement that is! If a student didn’t do as well as they expected to, encourage them not to be too hard on themselves and make sure they understand that there are still plenty of pathways available. 

What if a student didn’t do as well as expected?

If a student is collecting their GCSE or A Level results and didn’t do as well as they expected, try to calm them down and explain that there are plenty of options available to them!  

Students can always consider resitting their exams or follow a different pathway into their career. They might want to consider an apprenticeship or BTEC. If your student hasn’t done as well as you would have liked at A Level then you can help them to understand their options through Clearing. 

Clearing is available to students without any offers or those who choose to enter self-release. There will be a vacancy list with unfilled university offers and is a great back up option.  

What if your student did better than expected?

Congratulate them and ensure they understand the options available! Students might want to consider a different route or may like to apply through Adjustment. Remind them that there is no right or wrong pathway. It’s all about doing what is best for them.

If you work in a school your students might want to consider doing an apprenticeship, A Levels, Vocational Qualifications, BTEC or Traineeship. For College students, they might want to look into a Higher or Degree Apprenticeship, Work Experience or University. 

Sharon Walpole, Director, Careermap

#ResultsDay2019: Overcoming the Myths of Clearing
August 15, 2019

As of September 20th, 2018, the academic intake year saw a total of 60,100 hopeful students accepted through the UCAS clearing process.

Not only was this figure 150 higher than the previous year, it broke a new record for the number of students in total who had been taken in through clearing.

Unfortunately, despite the incredible number of success stories which have generated from the clearing process, in 2019, there still exists a major stigma around it.

In this article, we set out to quash the myths and provide you with a factual realisation of the benefits of clearing.

What is clearing?

Clearing takes place between July and September. It is designed to help students who need another opportunity to apply, regardless of the reason. Much of the confusion regarding the clearing process is based around who can apply. If you fall within any of the following categories, then you can apply:

  • Your application was not received by UCAS until after the 30th June, as by this stage they will not have been able to submit it to higher education institutions on your behalf
  • You didn’t receive any offer(s)
  • You had paid the full application fee for a course which has either been declined or unsuccessful
  • You either didn’t respond by the due date or declined your offer(s)
  • You didn’t receive the grades, therefore your offer was not confirmed
  • You declined a changed entry point, a changed course of study, or a changed start date
A-Level aftermath

The first major point regarding the clearing process, which is misinterpreted, is that it is only for people who failed their A-Levels. Not only is this untrue, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, clearing does offer an alternative route into further education for those who failed to meet preestablished grade requirements, however, this is one very small dimension to the process.

It is a sad reality that many students will beat themselves up if they don’t get their predicted grades at A-Level. However, once you arrive at university, everyone starts off from the same place. Teaching is designed and geared to ensure that everyone is in the same boat, regardless of your previous experience or learning. Similarly, don’t think because you’ve come through clearing that the rest of the class will be more intelligent — they could have gone through the exact same experience! Once you’re in, you’re in, and there is no looking back.

For students carrying out their A-Levels, there is no denying that you have a lot on your plate. Yes, of course you will receive copious amounts of help from your career advisor at school or college, but, quite frankly, you might not know what you want to do. Often this can lead to jumping into a university course that you didn’t actually want to do. This is where clearing can show its true worth. Rather than devoting the next three or four years of your life to a degree which you are unsure about, reapply once you have had a summer to weigh up your options.

‘But it’s only the courses that nobody wants to do…’

If you listen to the word on the grapevine, you might think that the only courses available through clearing are the ones which nobody wants to do. This, however, is little more than a rumour. Of course, there are a number of subjects which are incredibly oversubscribed from the off-set. However, even for those courses, the grade boundaries will usually be higher, and if the candidates don’t meet the requirements, unfilled places will remain.

All clearing does is match students to courses which are not filled. The credibility of the course isn’t diminished in anyway because it features in the clearing process — you could literally find anything on there, even the course you had initially applied for. Don’t think that because you’ve had one knock back from that course that you are inappropriate for a second shot. Many students find that they miss the cut the first time around, however, they can enter on the second intake.

Edward Brooks is a recent graduate of Northumbria University. After completing his first year at Teesside University in Middlesbrough, Edward began to look at alternative locations for the remainder of his studies. He wanted to be closer to his family in Newcastle. Unfortunately, because he had missed the cut off for UCAS applications, he would have had to wait for another year if he was going to apply using the standard procedure. Thanks to the university clearing process, Edward was able to apply to Northumbria. He details how his process was utterly seamless: “I was a bit stressed at first. I’d heard that clearing can be really confusing and time consuming, but, I got in touch and everything was pretty simplistic — I was on the right course for me, in the right location in a few weeks”.

What else?

The clearing process isn’t difficult, but we do admit, come results day, things might be a bit haphazard. However, there are walk through guides online detailing how to make the most out of the process.

Don’t be fooled into thinking people will think less of you if you go through clearing. Clearing is somewhat of a Pandora’s box, or Narnia style cupboard, in that it can lead you into endless opportunity.