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Going to university is expensive; tuition fees, living costs and a party lifestyle whilst studying are common costs that students will face. Unfortunately, however off putting the costs are, there is no way of getting around the fact that higher education and the experience is an expensive life choice, especially when research shows that student debts from university can equal over one third of an average mortgage! Despite the doom and gloom that comes with the costs, young people are often told, with a degree comes the chance of getting a better-paid job – the so-called graduate wage premium, which is supposed to offset the cost of university by ensuring you get a better paid career as a result. In this way, student debts become an ‘investment’ rather than a cost, while some careers still require you to have a university degree in order to get into them. But how true are these assertions? Does a degree always lead to better wages, or is there a financial risk involved in going to university?

Regardless of the improved chances of getting a ‘dream career’, not every graduate ends up landing their dream job, and many land up taking work that they could have got into without ever going to university. In fact, statistics show that tens of thousands of graduates are working in non-graduate jobs – including as farm workers, retail assistants and security guards. Just because someone achieves a degree doesn’t instantly make them more employable than someone without one; employers look for a range of different things such as experience hence having a degree may not put be of advantage. Indeed, many young people head off to university without a clear idea of what they want to do when they come out of the other side. This may be because these young people were always ‘expected’ to go to university (often at the behest of parents), or even just to ‘buy some more time’ before starting a career (quite literally, it seems!).

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