Apologies to those of you outside the UK who can’t access this whole article from The Times for free. [Email me if you want more info 😉 ] This education story attracted my attention yesterday:

“TEENAGERS in middle-class areas have begun to turn their backs on university, putting at risk the government’s drive to increase the number of graduates. New government figures show that in many affluent areas the proportion of 18-year-olds going to university has dropped.

“The worst affected area was Wokingham, Berkshire, where there was a 5.4% fall in numbers in just one year resulting in 27.3% of 18-year-olds entering higher education. The borough has some of the best-performing secondary schools in the country. The second-worst affected area was North Lincolnshire, where the proportion fell by 4.7%.”

“… Howard Glennerster, professor of social policy at the London School of Economics, said some of the apparently weakening attraction of university for the middle classes was because of the smaller financial gains they stood to make. Average income for working-class graduates is boosted by 16% compared with non-graduates; for middle-class students, the figure is 12%.

Glennerster said: “Higher education puts people in touch with information and a jobs network. Working-class students get most benefit from this because middle-class people already have access to much of that network and information.”

Students turning their backs on university often have as their role models successful non-graduates such as Sir Richard Branson, the Virgin tycoon, John Major, the former prime minister and Sir Tom Farmer, founder of the Kwik-Fit car repair chain.

Farmer said: “I didn’t go to university but when I joined a small tyre company the management encouraged people like me to go to night school.”

Government figures suggest the financial rewards of a degree may be falling. Previously, the education department has estimated that over a lifetime a graduate could expect to earn £400,000 more than a non-graduate. This has now been cut to £120,000—about £3,000 a year more than non-graduates.”