By Keilan Colville
FOR a lot of young people studying in sixth form, their main goal is to get into university, which brings the independence, experience and education that students are looking for.
Although, it also brings stresses and pressures financially, considering that tuition fees cost £4,160 a year in Northern Ireland, with fees in the rest of the UK costing up to £9,250 a year. This, plus living costs, makes going to university more difficult than it has ever been.
In light of the rising costs, there have been several alternative routes that are becoming popular among students, such as apprenticeships and foundation degrees that allow students to progress without taking the usual entry into higher education. That said, it seems most sixth years in Femanagh still feel that university is the main route to success.
“Even though there has been an increase in apprenticeships, school pushes university.” says Leah McBride, 18. “They make it seem like the only way we will be successful in life is if we have a degree.” Pierce Smith, 16, says, “I would like to go to university and for me it would be my main route. The fees are a bit daunting, although I will happily deal with them if it means I can pursue what I want to do.”
However, there are still those who feel that university isn’t the only way. “Going to university certainly increases your chances of doing well, but there are alternative routes into almost anything.” says James Bland, 17.
Abby McManus, 18, said “University is not for everybody at all. Not everyone knows what they want to do. Fees are ridiculously expensive, especially if the person isn’t sure about the course.” Caolum McDonald, 19, feels that experience is more valuable than qualifications, “For lawyers and doctors, then yes university, but for musicians or art not at all. I always say experience over qualifications.”