The number of students going to university over the past few years has massively increased, but you may have come across some false information that affects where your child goes, or even if they go at all! In this guide, we show you what university is and whether or not it’s a good fit for your child.
Let’s start with some mythbusting:
Myth 1: University means that your child will have a lot of debt.
This is false!
Whilst the price of tuition fees in the UK is currently £9,000 per year, when it comes to paying back a student loan (or debt), the total amount that your child will pay for university really depends on how much they earn after they graduate.
Once your child leaves university, they’ll only start repaying their loan when they earn over £27,295 per year. If they earn under £27,295 per year at any point, they don’t pay back anything (or their payment is paused). Student loans are cancelled after 30 years if they haven't been paid back.
If you have a Unifrog account, check out our Know-how library for more information about student finance in the UK and overseas. If you don’t, there’s some helpful information at the bottom of this guide.
Myth 2: The top ranked universities are the best.
This is also false!
When you think of the best universities, the bigger-named universities like Oxford, Cambridge, or ‘Russell Group’ unis might come to mind. This doesn't necessarily mean they're the best though; it actually means they have traditionally had the most money and resources. They might not even teach the subject your child wants to study!
There are lots of ways universities are ranked, like on the quality of their teaching, student satisfaction, and the number of graduates in employment after they complete their course. This means that there are actually lots of universities and courses that rank higher than universities like Oxford and Cambridge in certain subject areas.
Encourage your child to look for information related to what is important to them: for example, how satisfied students are with their course, or how expensive it is to live in the local area.
Students with Unifrog accounts can use the UK Universities search tool to compare options and to explore courses and unis based on the rankings that are meaningful to them.
Ultimately, your child should go to a university where they will be happy for the next three years or more, not just somewhere with high rankings.
Myth 3: Your child has to go to university.
Another false one!
There are so many great options for students, and university just might not be the right option for them right now. They might be happier completing an apprenticeship or degree apprenticeship, taking a gap year, starting a job, or studying for professional qualifications at an FE college. There is no age limit for studying a degree, so they can always study later on if that's what they want to do.
If your child wants to work in an industry that requires a degree (like medicine, for example), then they will need to go to university at some point, otherwise there might be other routes into their chosen career. There are more routes into typically graduate-only industries than ever before, including things like law and engineering. Encourage your child to talk to the careers adviser at their school and — if they have a Unifrog account — to explore different pathways using the Careers library and Shortlisting tools.
University might be the right path for your child if…
- They want to study more about a subject they love
- They’re unsure of their chosen career path and want to keep their options open
- They want the ‘university experience’ and freedom to study wherever they want
University might not be the right path for your child if…
- They’re not keen on spending a lot of time on academic studies
- They’d like to start their professional life
- They want to earn money straight away
Talk to the careers adviser at your child’s school for more advice.
Good stuff from elsewhere
Find out about student finance directly from the UK government.
Student Finance: Scotland
Is your child interested in studying in Scotland? Get more Scotland-specific information here.
Student Finance: Northern Ireland
Is your child interested in studying in Northern Ireland? Get more NI-specific information here.