Figures published today by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) show that in three-quarters of cases Scottish school leavers had not discussed alternatives to university with their school or career advice service. Meaning thousands of students could be sleep-walking in to more than £30,000 of debt because they are unaware of the possible alternatives.
Craig Vickery, head of ACCA Scotland: 'Clearly there has been a severe breakdown in the communication of careers’ advice to students. It is distressing to see that thousands of students are not receiving information about the full range of options available following their Highers. For some university can be a hugely beneficial part of life – learning to live independently, managing your own money and being responsible for you own choices – but it is not the only route students can take.
'There may be no tuition fees for students to worry about, but there are still other costs: food, rent, study materials and socialising for example. Figures show that this can amount to as much as £30,000 over the four years of a degree course. It’s important that students, parents and careers advisers have a conversation about whether university is right for them. Many professions such as accountancy don’t require a degree to enter. You can start earning and learning straight after you finish school.'
ACCA also found that the overwhelming reason for parents encouraging their children to go to university is for better career prospects. In Scotland 76% of parents surveyed said that they believed having a degree would give their children better career prospects but that is not always the case.
Vickery continued: 'We know that in the current economic climate having a degree is no guarantee of securing employment, and the longer it takes a graduate to secure a job the longer the student debt will take to pay off. While a degree is still the prestigious choice for parents when it comes to their children, there needs to be more understanding that alternatives to university can lead to better employment prospects. ACCA has joined together with a range of professional organisations and would be happy to provide information to school and careers advisors on the alternatives to university.'
ACCA and other professional bodies in the UK have joined up to launch the first ever Professions Week, which will run from 21-27 October 2013. The aim of the initiative is to increase awareness for the range and variety of potential employment options the professions have to offer.
The survey generated responses from 1,003 parents of 15-18 year olds in the UK.
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For more information, please contact:
Ray Allger, ACCA UK Newsroom
+ 44 (0)20 7059 5788
+44 (0) 7540 919 819
Notes to Editors
ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants. We aim to offer business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.
We support our 162,000 members and 428,000 students in 170 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. We work through a network of over 89 offices and centres and more than 8,500 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through our public interest remit, we promote appropriate regulation of accounting and conduct relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.
Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. We believe that accountants bring value to economies in all stages of development and seek to develop capacity in the profession and encourage the adoption of global standards. Our values are aligned to the needs of employers in all sectors and we ensure that through our qualifications, we prepare accountants for business. We seek to open up the profession to people of all backgrounds and remove artificial barriers, innovating our qualifications and delivery to meet the diverse needs of trainee professionals and their employers.