Bolton School Senior Boys

Parents Benefit from University Application Advice

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Bernard Strutt, Head of UK/EU student recruitment at the University of Manchester, gave a most informative talk to an audience of 40 parents, covering the why and the how of going to university. Bernard presented new research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, showing that graduates have consistently earned £10k more than non-graduates in the past decade. Subject choice matters when it comes to earnings potential, with economics, medicine, maths, physics and engineering leading to the highest-earning careers. However, when it comes to graduate recruitment, 66% of graduate jobs ask for any discipline, and are looking for transferable skills; so study what you love and make the most of extra-curricular opportunities. The workplace is transforming; school leavers and graduates should be looking to develop their critical analysis and problem-solving skills, rather than just relying on their subject knowledge. 

How to choose the best university for you can be somewhat of a minefield. Unistats is a government website comparing official course data from universities on a number of metrics, including student satisfaction, employability and teaching methods. Other sources of information include UCAS and Which? University. When considering league tables it is important to look at several and not just one, as they all use different parameters. The new Teaching Excellence Framework, published by the universities regulator, the Office for Students, is another source of information. 

There is significant global competition for university places, especially from China for postgraduate courses, along with a massive growth in local participation in higher education of nearly 50%. However, it remains a buyers’ market as the population is dipping at the school leaver age range so there are fewer students available to recruit. You are more likely than ever to get 5 offers and be accepted by your first choice university. There has also been a significant rise in unconditional offers, accounting for one-third of applicants in 2018. 

Finally, Bernard used the example of a leading law firm’s recruitment criteria to highlight the vast range of experience and skills evidence required for top jobs. He suggested that students can enhance their prospects now by researching options, applying themselves academically, gaining work experience, reading around the subject, participating in supra-curricular activities, reflecting on skills and how to evidence them, and taking advice from teachers, friends and parents.

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