Three reasons why Generation Z are deserting university

If Gen Z aren’t going to university, what are they doing? Amanda Rosewarne elaborates.

Reading time: 3m 30s.

We all know the importance of education and qualifications.

Younger generations are pushing themselves to stand out from the crowd to recruiters and optimise their future careers. Traditionally, teenagers would attend university to do so but in recent years there has been a significant change.

Generation Z are becoming more inventive in how they gain their knowledge. After having witnessed millennials attend university for staggering fees and be left in an alarming amount of debt, it appears university is not as popular as it once was.

But exactly what are these alternative methods and how do they compare with university?


The largest complaint in relation to university courses is the staggering fees. Elearning courses vary from under £10 to over £200 depending on what type of course you are seeking.

Apprenticeships are quickly becoming one of the most popular paths for teenagers.

Not only are they cheaper, but also offer a vaster array of subject areas and skill levels. Examples of these courses include ‘Learn The Secrets of ZOMBIE Apocalypse Preparedness’ and ‘SELFIE MASTERCLASS: How to click PERFECT SELFIES’.

These courses, at first glance, may seem a bit trivial but they are packaged creatively as an outdoor survival course and a photography lesson. There are, of course, lessons that are more in-depth. With the added bonus of these courses providing CPD accreditation, they are recognised qualifications.

With the nature of elearning being that it is consumed via video content offline, it can provide the benefit of learning at your own pace, with no deadline and no timetabled lectures. One option is using a video agency for high quality, impressive content and can easily keep the user more engaged than a stuffy lecture hall.


Apprenticeships are quickly becoming one of the most popular paths for teenagers. Not only can you learn the skills required for future employers, but many also now pay. Students can earn anything from around £400 a month.

These also vary in length, from a few months to a few years. Many can be tailored to suit your needs. Apprenticeships build confidence in the student and prepare them for their working life.


Previously, these tend to focus on construction and manual labour but there are now apprenticeships in almost every sector. They can be essential for gaining valuable contacts in the professional world and the majority of apprenticeships end with the offer of employment. It can also increase your future earning potential.

Taking an apprenticeship not only gives you sought after skills, you also complete these courses without the debt from student loans.

Internships / work experience

Choosing university at 17 or 18 years old can impact the rest of our lives. A subject at A-Level may have been a particular favourite but this profession can vary hugely outside the classroom. Work experience is the perfect opportunity to get first-hand experience in sectors. As most companies will jump at the chance to have an extra pair of hands for free, they are usually very flexible.

You can choose the length you do this and the hours. This provides valuable experience in sectors for those who are still deciding on a career path. It also gives those who are yet to have their first job the chance to put something on the C.V.

Others are also choosing options such as taking a gap year to travel or volunteer, both experiences also valuable to employers. And for those not wanting to relocate, university is not a viable option.

You are also not bound to one subject or sector; university courses are a big commitment and changing your mind can have consequences. Many who find they are not enjoying their course subjects tend to ‘stick it out’ as the repercussions of changing courses can be very costly.

With alternative routes, you can easily change your mind throughout as the financial commitment, in comparison, is small.

There are also many learners who simply can not get on with traditional academic courses. Previously, these learners may have been destined to not the most desirable careers. Now with the added alternatives, many earn more than those with degrees.

Of course, nothing can compare to the life lesson and experience of university and there will always be careers that require a bachelor’s degree or higher in a relevant subject.

It is not just Generation Z who have realised there are benefits from abandoning university. There are now a record number of alternatives. Forbes has estimated elearning will be worth £325bn but 2025 and businesses are quickly cashing in.


About the author

Amanda Rosewarne is CEO and Co-Founder of the CPD Standards Office.


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