Savvy students choose to go to uni for employment prospects, not nightlife

As people applying to university choose their firm and insurance offers, the latest survey from Which? University finds that applicants are overwhelmingly driven by graduate employment prospects when deciding to go to university.

Improving employment prospects and the pursuit of a vocation (63%) were cited by the majority of university applicants as the main reason for going to university, polling much higher than learning more about a subject or to stretch themselves intellectually (22%), moving away from home (1%) or having a good social life (<1%).

Six in ten (58%) applicants said the graduate employment rate of a course or university was important when considering their choice, compared to three in 10 (30%) who cited  starting salaries for graduates. However, only 38% of them actually researched graduate employment performance when making their choice and only a third (33%) aged 19 and under said they accessed one-to-one advice with a careers adviser when making their choices.

Nearly four in ten (37%) applicants considered the cost of living in an area important when choosing which university to go to, more than said the cost of the course (17%), local nightlife (26%) or culture in the area (23%).

Which? University is a free and independent website to help students make more informed decisions about higher education, featuring information on more than 30,000 courses and 286 universities and colleges to search and compare. We feature graduate employment rates for universities and subjects, typical job outcomes and employment market commentaries.

 Which? executive director Richard Lloyd, said:

“It’s encouraging that savvy students are focusing on employment benefits when deciding whether to go to university, but it’s worrying that more aren’t getting one-to-one careers guidance when making their choices.

“For free, impartial advice on many of the key issues when deciding a course or university, students and their parents can visit Which? University.”

Which? is concerned that young people do not have access to enough information and advice when deciding which university and course to apply for and has been calling for better information to be made available in the Key Information Set (KIS) on the academic experience and employment performance, which at the moment is limited to six months post-graduation.

 Notes to editors:

1.    Youthsight, on behalf of Which?, surveyed 1003 applicants intending to start university in September 2014, online between 7th and 24th February 2014. Data were weighted to be representative of the applicant demographic.

2.    Which? University brings together facts and statistics from official sources including UCAS, the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the National Student Survey and Destination of Leavers of Higher Education survey. This is combined with real-life insight from students and the unbiased, expert analysis you’d expect from Which?.

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