Many young people unclear about their post-school futures

* 34% of students feel they lack an understanding of traditional degrees

* 66% want to see businesses and universities partner to provide exposure to the workplace before graduation

* 69% prefer teacher-led classroom-based learning modern teaching methods


New research published today (16th August) reveals that many 16-17-year olds lack an understanding of their post-school options.

The independent survey of 1,000 16-17-year olds was commissioned by Pearson Business School to find out what students want to see in universities in the future and conducted by specialist youth research agency Youthsight.

Pearson Business School is part of Pearson College London – the UK’s first higher education institution to be founded by a FTSE 100 company. 

Young people’s understanding of their future options

Over a third of students (34%) feel they did not have an understanding of traditional degrees (such as BA, BSc, LLB), while six in ten (59%) lack an understanding of degree apprenticeships. Students had a better understanding of apprenticeships, with only 27% feeling they do not understand them.

Despite a reported 594% increase in applications for degree apprenticeship courses, one in ten students have still not heard of them.

Half of students (50%) would consider studying for a two-year degree, which the government is looking to introduce. However, 66% would prefer universities to prioritise degree apprenticeships – a hybrid degree that combines academic theory with real-world learning.

Young people’s preferences for the way they are taught

The survey also explored students’ preferences on the way they are taught.

Students overwhelmingly (69%) prefer traditional teacher-led classroom-based learning over self-directed learning supported by online courses with video lectures (preferred by 13%) or self-directed learning on YouTube (preferred by just 7%).

Students would like universities to build practical work-based skills into the university curriculum, including internships and work experience built into the course design (50%), education incorporated into careers (46%), and courses or modules designed, developed and delivered by industry experts (43%).

66% of students would also like to see businesses partner with universities to provide exposure to the world of work before graduation. This echoes findings from the most recent Pearson-CBI report into employers’ impressions of graduate skills, which found that three quarters of employers would also be prepared to play a greater role in supporting schools and colleges in improving careers advice.

As further evidence that students are committed to face-to-face learning, just 6% of students would like universities to prioritise distance learning.

For students, the three most important skills to learn for their future careers are communication, problem solving and adaptability. For employers, the Pearson-CBI report found that businesses look first and foremost for graduates with the right attitudes and aptitudes to enable them to be effective in the workplace.

Roxanne Stockwell, Principal of Pearson College London, said:

”There is clearly potential for the higher education sector and businesses to work more closely together and deliver degrees and degree apprenticeships that are designed and delivered in partnership with the world of work in mind, to lay strong foundations for future economic growth.  We often hear employers talk about the skills they’d like to see in graduates, or how they’d like to work with higher education institutions, so it’s really interesting to hear student’s perspectives too. At Pearson College London, we work with hundreds of industry partners including L’Oreal, IBM and Direct Line Group to design, develop and deliver our programmes, so the fact that students want to see more collaboration with industry, is welcome news.”

L’Oréal UK commented:

“For many years, L’Oréal UKI has been collaborating with the Higher Education sector to upskill students to be ready for the world of work. We do this through informative career insights, live case studies such as our international marketing competition, Brandstorm, as well as through 100s of full time Internships we offer. We believe it is important to provide students with the tools they need for success post-graduation, and are delighted to add a new ‘string to our bow’ in the form of our Degree Apprenticeship Programme, in partnership with Pearson College.”

Notes for editors:

About Pearson College London
Education, powered by industry experience.

Industry engagement is at the core of everything that we do; it’s the key to delivering our vision of empowering the people that will change the world.

Our mission is clear: to become one of the UK's leading universities for in-depth industry engagement. Our academic schools are united by our mantra "designed, developed and delivered by industry" and we ensure our students graduate industry ready, as their career starts from day one.

Our students are taught by experts that have all worked in their respective industries and they benefit from industry feedback from leaders within industry too. They get to deliver on live industry briefs and attend industry workshops led by some of the world's most reputable organisations. We work with industry giants from Unilever, L’Oreal, WPP and IBM, to Framestore, Double Negative, MPC and The Mill, and that's what sets us apart.

When you combine higher education and industry, everyone benefits. Especially when there's a need for graduates to stand out from the crowd in a competitive market.

Industry engagement drives us; it’s not just what we do, it’s who we are. And it is what will take us, and our students, into the future.

Pearson College London has places available in Clearing 2018, on courses in Business, Accounting, Law, Visual Effects (VFX), Games and Animation. 

The Pearson College London-Youthsight survey was conducted in late July 2018 and polled 1,000 16 and 17 year olds.

Copies of the raw data are available upon request.