Advancing your career with a flexible, cost-effective degree programme – alternative options for higher education

Posted on: 18 August, 2017

Ashley Wheaton, CEO and Principal at University College of Estate Management.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies recently reported that students in England, entering university this September, are going to graduate with average debts of over £50,000. This is almost double the amount of average debt students would have faced in 2011. With a projected 77% of students unable to pay off their debt within 30 years of graduating, it is critical for higher education to become more affordable and within reach.

It doesn’t need to be this way. Accessible, relevant and cost-effective education is available, and it’s becoming increasingly popular amongst prospective students.

Institutions offering online or distance learning models, for instance, allow students to study where, when and how they want to, without interrupting their careers or ongoing commitments. Students can elect to earn whilst they learn, thereby reducing student loan debt, whilst also combining their academic studies with valuable work experience. This is a highly cost-effective and arguably more relevant option when compared with traditional universities. Gaining the added value of cutting-edge industry knowledge, exposure to leading companies and networking opportunities with practising professionals can be the key difference between one student and another in terms of future career success.

Employers are also benefiting from the advantages of hiring students who have studied online whilst working, as they can often be more digitally skilled, self-disciplined and committed than their peers who have completed classroom-based courses.

Specialist, vocational learning providers are another choice to consider. Many of today’s prospective students have never considered a future in industries such as manufacturing, computing or construction, even though there are numerous very well-paid and secure career opportunities on offer. Within the Built Environment industry, a wide variety of diverse, prestigious and lifelong career options are available. Whether students are interested in creating sustainable infrastructure, planning a new housing development or managing a world-class building project, a specialist learning provider can equip its students with the appropriate skills to move forward in their professional careers. It is time for specialist learning providers to be put on the map. Not only do these institutions focus on particular and vocationally relevant topic areas, they can also provide useful business skills and close ties to the professions and industry.

Graduates who access study in these ways can end up leaving education ahead of their friends and peers who went down the traditional university route, both financially and in career terms.

With the mountain of debt facing today’s students, it is time to highlight the alternatives. And with the increasing emphasis on employability outcomes, these alternatives can offer the chance to study relevant qualifications and align with professional bodies; arguably giving graduates more credibility and relevance than traditional degree programmes.

At UCEM we are committed to excellence in our teaching and in providing strong employability outcomes for all students. Whatever your background, our programmes enable students to increase professionalism and contribute to a better Built Environment in a more affordable and flexible manner. Find out more about the benefits of online learning or the programmes on offer at UCEM.

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