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It's 2023, is UK Higher Education Worth it anymore?

The forecast average debt among the cohort of borrowers who started their course in 2021/22 is £45,800, and that’s not including interest. To put $45,800 in perspective, instead of a university degree you could buy a nice car, put a down payment on a £450,800 house or Gnome someone’s house via the dark web about 901 times. With initiatives like paid UK apprenticeships and affordable education platforms like Peterson academy giving people alternative opportunities for high-quality education, I began to wonder, is university in the UK worth it anymore? For most men and some women, the data says maybe not.

Education, happiness and stories of success

As we’ve explored success and happiness the past few weeks, one of the factors of happiness that stood out to me was those who are happier tend to be educated, but not too educated. This could be because one of the other common factors for happiness includes being religious and highly educated people tend to be less religious, but I’m not sure. Regardless, the link between economic success and wealth fascinates me because I’ve grown up believing that a university education was necessary for success. Seeing the world how I do now, I’ve begun to question if that’s the case.

What has made me question my perspective was the realisation that a lot of people reach success without a traditional degree, and a lot of people with degrees don’t reach success.

For example, my own mother made six figures for the majority of her career without a college degree working as a computer programmer, and in my first job out of university at employer branding agency Blackbridge Communications, I saw countless opportunities for apprenticeships that paid you instead of the other way around. Lastly, I’ve heard many friends who went through university say the words “I’m not sure it was worth it.”

What was my experience?

I went to the University of Surrey and studied Business Management. Coming from the USA to the UK has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, but it’s because I’ve taken every opportunity possible. How did I do this? Well, I always kept my eyes and ears peeled, but it was only because I was able to.

For me, university has been worth it, but I’m not sure if I’m an exception for feeling this way because I’m lucky enough to be one of the few people I know who graduated from university debt free. My tuition was 100% covered by insurance money from a house fire I had when I was 16. I worked short stint jobs in university, but I was blessed in the sense I could pour all my time into studying, building relationships and extra curricular activities like Business Society, Nutrition Society and running a marketing campaign against sexual violence called The Guard in my final year of university.