Gransnet forums


University or not?

(20 Posts)
grannyactivist Wed 30-Jan-13 01:03:08

My youngest son is 21 and has just received unconditional offers for two engineering degree courses he has applied for. He has more than the UCAS points needed, but not the relevant science qualification and so his offers include a Foundation Year; both courses offer a year in employment (3rd year) and so altogether my son is looking at a five year period before he can start his career. At a minimum he will owe £40k to the government when he finishes studying. He genuinely is flummoxed as to what is the best course of action. Should he go to university or try to get a full time job now? (He works appx 30 hours each week now, but the job is boring and requires no qualifications.) I'd like him to go to university, but what do other grans think?

Granny23 Wed 30-Jan-13 01:19:18

My friends DGS has just got an engineering apprenticeship where he will work and be paid a reasonable wage whilst completing an HND (day release) over three years. Over 100 young folk applied for 10 places but this lad is very presentable and well mannered + has enough qualifications for University entrance. His choice to follow this route because he will have an income, no debt and be able to live at home.

Dresden Wed 30-Jan-13 07:35:52

My dd1's OH is an engineer and has a good job, but he has been held back by not having a degree. he has considered going to university as a mature student, but it is so much harder when you are in your 40s and have responsibilities, a big mortgage etc.

If your son would really like to go to uni and is prepared to work hard, it may be the best way forward for his long term future. He can probably do a part time job during his foundation year and he should be paid for his sandwich year. Also he has time to save a bit of money this year, before term starts in September.

Ylil Wed 30-Jan-13 08:01:25

My son is 27 and is at college hoping to go on to uni next year. He hasn't much hope of work unless he gets some we are supporting him.

Grannyactivist, in the long term, a degree can only be a good thing for him.

janeainsworth Wed 30-Jan-13 08:41:29

grannyactivist what branch of engineering is your son interested in?
In this country engineers do not receive the professional recognition that they do in other countries like France for example, and anyone can call themselves an engineer whether they have been to university or not.
If your son wanted to be a professional engineer and progress in his career he would need to be chartered with the appropriate Institution - civil, mechanical, structural etc.
in the past they could do this by getting HND if they didn't have a university degree. That route is no longer open, and although they can join at technician grade that is not the same as being a Chartered Engineer.
I have asked DH who is a retired Civil Engineer and he says it depends on your son's academic level - if he has A levels he would be better off qualifying by the graduate route, but would still get a job at a lower level.
Hope that helps, but he perhaps needs to talk to a careers guidance person who knows more about him and what he wants.
Hope that helps smile

jeanie99 Sat 27-Apr-13 16:30:18

My nephew is a mature student at 32 yrs, he's never been out of work but wanted to do a more interesting job than the ones he had been doing.

My son and daughter both went to University and this made him think about his own future career and where he wanted to go.

He's in his second year now and it is hard getting the right balance of University projects attending lectures and working part time. He has a student loan also to help out but it's a struggle but he's never regretted making the decision and is enjoying the challenges of his life now and looks forward to his future.

annodomini Sat 27-Apr-13 16:46:15

Good for him, jeanie. smile

glammanana Sat 27-Apr-13 17:43:41

jeanie99 its a worthwhile struggle for them fitting in lectures and helping to fund themselve's but it will all be worth it in the end,my DGS will be going on 28/29 by the time he completes his law studies now after taking a year off,a time when he thought there was no light at the end of the tunnel but after his little wobble he is back on course again.

FlicketyB Sat 27-Apr-13 19:55:41

There is always the Open University. At 20 DD went to university and gained a degree in acting. She had decided before she graduated that she didn't want to act, although she would like to work in the arts. Since then she has had a number of satisfying jobs on the more technical side of the industry. In recent years she has got interested in first astronomy and then engineering. She is now doing a physics degree at the OU, while working full time in her career, she is already planning her follow on M SC.

Anyone over 18 can study at the OU and you can spread your course and your fees over more than 3 years. I think you qualify for student loans on certain conditions. A number of people I know have done their first degree this way while working, funding themselves out of their earnings and then taken a year off and borrowed money to do a one year Masters degree. It means you end up with a higher degree and a far less debt than if you followed a conventional route.

Also consider studying abroad in The Netherlands or Belgium, many courses are taught in English and I do not think fees are charged. Delft is the Dutch equivalent of Imperial College and that teaches only in English.

J52 Sat 27-Apr-13 20:11:41

After years of advising able students, I would suggest that the degree route is the best, in this case. Some professions require degrees, this being one of them. Over a lifetime of earning as an engineer, the student loan will seem quite small. Your GS will have the qual. to travel the world and hopefully an exciting life. Good luck.

Stansgran Sat 27-Apr-13 20:48:54

A friends son did work experience with an engineering company before he started his degree . They hoped he would join them after his degree. Is it worth looking at joining the armed services and committing to time with them after the degree?

wisewoman Sat 27-Apr-13 21:36:02

I see someone else has mentioned the Open University. For someone who already has a job (though boring) it may be a better option though of course it would take a bit longer but he could earn and learn at the same time. It is so hard to know how to advise young people today. Friends' children with degrees in science and engineering are struggling to get jobs and yet you would think we desperately need engineers and scientists. confused

Hunt Sat 27-Apr-13 23:27:48

Don't put the £40,000 debt into the equation when deciding what to do. He will either be earning enough to be able to cope with the repayments and if not the debt will be written off when he reaches a certain age.

TracySmith Mon 29-Apr-13 17:16:51

grannyactivist In my opinion, a university degree is always going to be better long term as he will always be able to fall back on it. In today's crazy COMPETITIVE society, if you're without a degree you can lose out on a job purely because someone else has a degree and experience and you "only" have the experience.

At the end of the day, he's still so young so I would recommend going to university.

In terms of debt... You should look at it as he's investing in an education whereas someone else is investing in a house. Just because you cannot physically see what he's gaining doesn't mean it's not worth the investment.

Good luck! smile

Greatnan Mon 29-Apr-13 18:23:54

I was 27 and had two small children when I began a four year B.ED. so I was 31 when I started my teaching career. My daughter was almost 40 with six children when she began an OU degree in Health Studies. We both went on to have successful careers. I get annoyed when anybody talks about having 'only' an OU degree - they take a lot of hard work and commitment.
I would have wanted to study for the sheer joy of it, even if it had not led to a career.

Mishap Mon 29-Apr-13 19:00:40

The problem with degrees now is that they are not enough - some sort of post-grad qualification is needed for most jobs that used to take degree holders - more expense!!

nanaej Mon 29-Apr-13 19:11:14

Uni is also more than just getting a degree/qualification! Will he be living at home or in digs? I have employed loads of graduates and those who have lived away from home often had a greater maturity than those who had not. I fully appreciate the costs involved in living in digs but do think it is a good experience.

grannyactivist Mon 29-Apr-13 21:18:55

My son has now accepted the offer of a place on the Degree course and will be living in off-campus accommodation. He has already lived independently having been away to college for two years. He's still anxious about the amount of money he will owe, but the University Open Day was brilliantly organised and answered all of his questions well.

nanaej Mon 29-Apr-13 21:58:20

Glad a decision has been made.. a relief to have decided!smile

Greatnan Mon 17-Jun-13 22:52:03

My grand-daughter's fiancé was going to take a degree in Sports Science when she finishes her nursing degree in a few months. However, he has been promoted to be manager of a large gym in New Zealand, where they live, and loves his work. He has a good salary and once she starts nursing they will be very comfortable. University fees are very high in NZ and he would probably end up in debt.
His mother will be disappointed if he doesn't take a degree, but is there any point when he has already got the career he wanted? He will almost certainly continue to do well in the next three years.