Parental career advice leaving students in the dark about alternatives to university

According to new research by professional services firm EY, graduate recruitment specialists GTI Media, and the Association of Graduate Careers Services (AGCAS), parents are having a significant influence on all aspects of their children’s future careers, but aren’t aware of the alternatives to university.

The survey of 3,383 university students and 807 parents looked at how students were influenced by their parents around their choice of university, degree course and future careers.

Of the parents surveyed, 70% said they encouraged their children to go to university and of those, 43% felt that a degree would improve their children’s long term career prospects more than an apprenticeship, school-leaver programme or by joining the job market after college or sixth form. Only 27% of students surveyed said their parents had discussed alternatives to university with them.

Julie Stanbridge, Head of Student Recruitment at EY, said: “The survey results would suggest that for many parents, university is still seen as the default option and the safest route to achieving career success. Whereas in reality, entering the workplace straight after A-Levels can play to the strengths of highly-focused students and provide them with a real head-start in their careers. The quality of professional training on offer also means that school-leavers are not at a disadvantage when it comes to gaining recognised qualifications, compared to their peers at university.”

Chris Philips, Director of Research at GTI Media, added: “It’s clear from the research that parents are increasingly active influencers and it’s vital that universities and employers develop innovative strategies to reach students by engaging with their parents.”