Debate of the week: Degrees of investment

December 14th, 2009 by Emily

Socrates, the ancient Greek philosopher, said that the unexamined life was not worth living. In other words, education is fundamental to life, and should be undertaken for its own sake.

He would have been horrified to read a recent BBC Online article revealing that today's graduates can expect to earn £100,000 more over their working life than those without a degree. The figure was calculated as part of a review into university fees in England.

Is education nothing more than a return on investment? If so, it seems like a very poor one. The rent, books, tuition fees, living costs and all the other costs associated with three or more years at university will surely take a chunk out of that £100,000 before it's even been earned. And then there's the ball and chain of student debt to contend with post-graduation.

Doesn't look that appealing, does it? That's the problem with appropriating the value of education in mere financial terms. What about the value of knowledge, of experience, of becoming an adult away from home for the first time? More studies like this one will encourage parents and students sit down and do the maths before filling out the UCAS forms, honing in on the courses that lead to the most lucrative paths: "Better do medicine, dear - at least you might earn six figures as a consultant. I know you want to study sociology, but you'll end up penniless and living with us until you're 50 if you do".

What do the parents, students and tutors from the First Tutors Community think about this? Is an extra £100,000 all there is to be gained from a university degree, or are there other rewards?

Categories: Advice