Academia leads to a world of opportunity

May 23, 2003

Sixth-formers

Mark Shadbolt, 18, head boy at Parmiter's School near Watford.

He has a place to study biochemistry at Warwick University but his goal is the City. "You cannot get above a certain level in a career without a degree. Some of my friends think university is a good excuse to delay going into the real world so are choosing subjects they like. But whatever you do, you learn lots of skills you need later."

Afsana Huda, South Camden Community School, London.

She believes universities should support knowledge for its own sake. "University trains you for work and life. Certain courses can lead you to the ideal job, but the skills you learn in studying something like Latin could apply to a different field."

Employers

Simon Headington, director, Health Jobs UK, an online nursing recruitment company.

"I am looking for people who have learnt how to work. If a graduate has not come out of university with a work ethic instilled in them, something is wrong."

Stephen Allen, chairman, The Westminster Collection, a direct marketing company.

"The degree is merely a benchmark that says 'above average' intellectually.

The perceived status of the university attended may also influence us when recruiting.

"There seems to be a shortage of candidates wanting potentially lucrative careers in the skilled trades. So there is concern that perhaps too many people are being directed to pseudo-academic subjects."

Professionals

Joanna Green, English teacher, South Camden Community School, London.

"It is important that universities provide people with the skills to be successful. But more than anything else, education should be about enrichment and allowing people to enjoy things other than work."

Lloyd Bradley, hospital doctor, North London.

"The benefits of a higher education to society are not measurable financially, rather in an informed electorate able to debate issues and impart knowledge.

"Evolution, gravity, DNA are products of our long and distinguished academic culture. It is arrogant for this government to redefine higher education for generations to come."

Taxi drivers

Jo MacDonald, Stirling.

"An awful lot of graduates don't have a job - is that worth while?"

Keith Humphries, from Youlegrave, Derbyshire.

"If you consider scholars working on biblical texts, you could question how useful that is. But I think the system is not too far wrong.

You need a wide church of courses, because no one knows what will come out of learning."

Parent

Fiona Tinelli, secretary and mother of a prospective student, Edinburgh.

"Students are better educated people whatever their course. My daughter picked psychology and Italian because it was what she was interested in, not particularly with a career in mind."

Pensioner

Sheila King, Market Harborough, Leicestershire.

"A university is not a sausage machine to turn out people whose only aim in life is to make money or boost the economy. The advantage of a university education is not necessarily the qualifications achieved but the benefit of living with and exchanging ideas with like-minded people."

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