The pandemic has left many questioning the price tag of a restricted university experience. Recent graduates face an oversaturated job market, in which having a degree is not enough to distinguish themselves, whilst 61% of internships were cancelled in the first half of this year and competition for entry-level jobs is staggeringly fierce.
Currently, the government is increasing the pressure for better vocational education through the launch of apprenticeships. Ministers have claimed that universities are letting students down by accepting them onto courses that offer little employability. This summer, education minister Gavin Williamson abandoned the Tony Blair-era target to get half of young people into university, calling for reform in further education.
In the meantime, structured and expensive higher education is losing popularity. The first cohort of students starting courses this term exposed fundamental challenges for universities. Students were fenced in at the University of Manchester and locked down in their halls at many other universities, offered dire food parcels and the company of a handful of strangers to get them through the pandemic. The students have understandably grown angry at being lured into university campuses, charged tuition and rent and only been offered restrictions in exchange. Rent strikes are booming, and legitimately so, as the concessions reinvigorate the cause for students across the country.