The New Phrase in Further and Adult Education – “Debt Free Degree”
After August’s A-Level results led to the – not unexpected – reports of a higher percentage of students receiving A and A* grades, headlines such as the following from The Daily Telegraph: ‘Bright A-Level Students shun university,’ were not entirely unexpected. However, although many are put off by the competition and the cost of traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ institutions, this does not mean that they are eager to shun further education altogether. Welcome, then, to the era of the “Debt Free Degree”.
The reason for this widespread pessimism towards the UK’s higher education system is not surprising either. Today, average debt prices stand at around the £23,000 mark (according to the latest figures from ). Additionally, the latest data from The Office of National Statistics shows that the number of graduate jobs available have shrunk by a quarter, whilst the average number of people wanting those jobs is 45.
Yet, of course, with any good social revolution comes action – and the result is a number of online and offline campaigns promoting the idea that there is more to post-school/college life than three years of traditional university education and a hideous amount of debt. At the forefront of the campaign is the website: – an informative blog that proclaims itself as the ‘non-graduate UCAS’ – in no way anti-university, but there to ensure that young people are aware that there are other routes to success.
“Debt Free Degrees” are certainly discussed with fondness on the site, and as certain a means to getting a decent qualification and ahead in life as studying at a traditional university. Of course, what the phrase: “Debt Free Degree” is referring to is nothing inherently new – merely the notion of using one of the UK’s many online distance learning courses in the vein of that offered by the Open University since the sixties, but now offered as an aside by major institutions and other providers all over the country.
Exactly where a distance learning course is based is beside the point really. The beauty of today’s online degree courses are that they can be done from anywhere with an internet connection – whether you live in London or on the Isle of Skye. There are major plus points for those interested in adult education also – as distance learning courses offer more time flexibility, meaning you can study when you want (i.e. around family and work commitments) as opposed to traditional university courses where you must stick to a strict schedule. It seems that over the next few years this may be the biggest draw for distance learning, that students can work while they study, a great way to keep away from debt and to add an even greater number of skills to your CV.