Commenting on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ‘Education at a Glance’ report 2014, Prof Steve West, Chair of University Alliance, said:
“It’s positive that today’s report has revealed that the UK’s high proportion of people with university or college qualifications, with more gaining a university or college qualification than leaving school aged 18. University education in the UK is vital to our economy and for our young people – and, as the report highlights, getting a degree is great for graduates who are on course to earn £155,000 on average more than someone without a degree and provides a significant contribution to our economy by generating an extra £80,000 on average in tax and social contributions.
“But University Alliance shares the report’s concerns that the increase in university education has not lead to better skilled graduates. In the UK’s global knowledge-based economy, where 80% of new jobs are in high-skilled areas, employers are demanding more from their graduates, requiring them to be forward thinking, problem solving and entrepreneurial. Alliance Universities have stepped up to that challenge by undertaking considerable collaboration with employers to ensure the quality and job-readiness of our graduates and to fill the skills gaps in their regions, the UK and worldwide. It is crucial we continue to tackle this issue as job-ready graduates lead to greater social mobility and drive economic growth.
“The report covers the period up to the HE reforms that came into effect in 2012. Of course we know the current funding system is not sustainable. We are calling on all political parties to consider how they will address the affordability of our higher education system to ensure we are able to maintain the public investment needed to sustain a strong system at the heart of the UK’s economic growth.”