Work-based university teaching preferred by majority of students

Research published today (14th August) shows that many 16-17 year olds want to see further collaboration between universities and business and more focus on employability skills before graduating.

The independent survey of 1,000 16-17-year olds was commissioned by Pearson Business School and conducted by specialist youth research agency Youthsight in order to understand what students want to see in universities in the future. Pearson Business School is
part of Pearson College London – the UK’s first higher education institution to be founded by a FTSE 100 company. 

· 16-17 year olds want universities to prioritise courses incorporating work experience (44%) and workplace skills (35%), as well as education
incorporated into careers (36%)

· Students overwhelmingly (72%) prefer traditional
classroom-based learning over online alternatives

· Despite enthusiasm for Degree Apprenticeships, almost half of students (45%) lack an understanding of them

·  Students are choosing the institution they study at based on subject preference (71%) over location (49%), reputation (47%) or future employment prospects (44%)

Research published today (14th August) shows that many 16-17 year olds want to see further collaboration between universities and business and more focus on employability skills before graduating.

The independent survey of 1,000 16-17-year olds was commissioned by Pearson Business School and conducted by specialist youth research agency Youthsight in order to understand what students want to see in universities in the future. 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 preferences for the way they are taught Students overwhelmingly (72%) 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 4%). 

Looking ahead to 2030, young people surveyed wanted universities to prioritise developing students’ employability skills over flexibility. Students would like universities to develop stronger links between university courses and work-based skills, including internships and work experience built into the course design (44%), education incorporated into careers (36%), and modules that incorporate workplace skills, such as time management (35%).

These were preferred to priorities such as careers advice (28%) or greater flexibility, including accelerated courses (14%). As further evidence that students are committed to face-to-face learning, just 4% of students would like universities to prioritise distance learning.

When looking to their future careers and the most important skills required, students identified communication (53%), problem solving (48%) and adaptability (46%), ahead of options such as resilience (32%) and creativity (23%). 

Over two-thirds of students (68%) would also like to see universities partner with businesses 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. 

Young people’s understanding of their future options Half of students (50%) indicated they would consider studying for a two-year degree, which the government is looking to introduce. However, 65% would prefer universities to prioritise degree apprenticeships – a hybrid degree that combines academic theory with real-world learning.

Almost half (45%) of 16-17 year olds surveyed said that they lacked an understanding of degree apprenticeships, compared to around one in five that lack understanding of traditional degrees (20%) or apprenticeships (17%). This is an improvement from 2018 when six in ten (59%) of 16-17 year olds indicated that they did not have an understanding
of degree apprenticeships, and goes someway to explaining the 340% increase in the number of people undertaking a degree apprenticeships, from 1,614 in 2016–17 to
7,114 in the first four months of 2018/19 (IfATE, 2019).

Subject preference still top priority for young people choosing their next steps When choosing an institution for the next stage of studying, students overwhelmingly highlighted subject preference (71%) as the main reason for their choice, ahead of options such as location (49%), reputation (47%), future employment prospects (44%) or financial reasons (14%). 

Those students set to continue their studies post-18 stated they plan to do so primarily for employment reasons, with 70% stating they did so because they had a preferred career or job in mind, while 61% highlighted employment/career prospects. New Prime Minister should prioritise reducing the interest rate on student loan debt. When asked for their views on the various higher education measures proposed by candidates during the Tory leadership campaign, by far the most popular among 16-17 year olds was the proposal to reduce the interest rates on tuition fee debt by 3% (from RPI+3). This was preferred by 50% of those surveyed. 

This was followed by the proposal to cancel the student debt of anyone who creates a new business which employs more than 10 people for five years, which was preferred by 17% of those surveyed, ahead of proposals to boost funding for the apprenticeship system (14%) and introducing a £100 million “retraining fund” to give workers of all ages new skills (13%). 

Responding to the findings Roxanne Stockwell, Principal of Pearson College London, said: 

“These figures show that there is a clear demand from students for universities and businesses to work more closely together to design, develop and deliver degree programmes and degree apprenticeships.

“With an increasingly competitive job market, students want higher education institutions to deliver programmes that are designed in partnership with employers, in order to introduce them to the world of work while gaining practical skills.

“However, as so many young people are unclear about their options, this should be a wakeup call. It’s crucial that government, employers, schools and higher education institutions do more to help students understand their future options, so they can decide which route is best for them.”

Pearson College London has places available in Clearing 2019, on courses in Business, Accounting, Law, Visual Effects (VFX), Games and Animation. Find out more at: pearsoncollegelondon.ac.uk/clearing 

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