Is university worth it? A university education costs both time and money, potentially putting students into a lot of debt as they start their working lives. Also, couldn’t time spent studying be better used in the labour market, gaining solid experience?

It’s true that graduates, on average, tend to earn more than non-graduates. However, does it always outweigh the time and money invested? In the UK, for example, one-third of male graduates only see a “negligible” increase in pay, despite the high costs of a university education.

What do our readers think? We had a comment from Iva, who tells us that a lot of young people in her country think a university education is wasting precious time that could be spent working and getting experience. Is she right? Is a university education worth the investment in time and money?

To get a response, we spoke to Malcolm Byrne, Head of Communications at the Higher Education Authority of Ireland and one of Friends of Europe’s European Young Leaders. How would he respond?

Next up, we had a comment sent in from Stefano, who argues that a university education is critical because it “determines the role that each person plays in society”. But isn’t that a bit of an old-fashioned view of how society works? After all, entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates managed to get ahead without a university degree. Isn’t it more about skills and experience these days?

To get a reaction, we spoke to Eva Sadoun, Co-Founder and CEO of LITA.co, a crowdfunding platform dedicated to social entrepreneurship and to sustainable development. As an entrepreneur herself, what would she say to Stefano’s comment?

Is a university education worth the investment? Or is it becoming less relevant than it was in the past? Does it too often leave graduates in debt and without solid work experience? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: Flickr – BY-NC-ND 2.0Alex Reynolds
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29 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Николай

    No. Let all become dumb and only the rich educated! Plutocrats ftw

  2. avatar
    Христо

    No, definitely no. No university degree =/= not smart

    • avatar
      Николай

      Better education better life. Smart is one thing, educated is other.

  3. avatar
    Paul

    Yes…but some more than others.

  4. avatar
    Leandro

    In Portugal it really needs to be a very specific degree because many of them just don´t offer any employment what so ever. Its also a problem with the countries themselfs, they can have universities offering degrees in lot´s of areas but if the economy doesn´t have such specialized employment sector looking for such set of skills and education its worthless. Personaly, i finished the mandatory school and i went to work and i work hard every single day but i can afford my own things while many friends are still studying at university drowned in debts or drowning ther parents and family perhaps and might not even get a job within ther degree after many years of studying

  5. avatar
    Bódis

    In Europe the cost of university education is farly low, so it’s definitely worth it. Especially if it’s real education and not indoctrination.

  6. avatar
    Markus

    No, if one does it only for a paper. Which is almost 60 percent here.

  7. avatar
    EU Reform- Proactive

    What are its consequences?

    All statistics indicate that with an increasing level of education & training- starting from a high school diploma, tech colleges, bachelor degrees to advanced degrees- the life long earning potential increases incrementally and depending how “cheap” (which country & from which institution) one can obtain such training- will under normal circumstances enable such graduates to recoup the input costs, enhance their quality of life and that of their countries economy.

    However, an unbalanced workforce, runaway technologies- e.g. too many academics & “unemployable graduates” etc- and nobody available of maintaining its infrastructure, cleaning its cities, tend to the young & sick- creates a different demographic problem when such disproportions and falling birth rates is recklessly balanced by “unchecked” immigration.

    The minority surplus but unfortunate graduates have to find something else to do or work elsewhere.

    The most successful economical input is either given by gifted and higher educated or/and any happy workers who love their assignments, (create) their (own) companies and are able to prosper in the country they are born, grown up & work in!

    To make the right choices is not always easy; since most parents wish to see their children do better than themselves- by offering their full support as long it is sensible & affordable.

    https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Tertiary_education_statistics

  8. avatar
    jthk

    University education is not about money but a way to acquire knowledge, learn to think and see things scientifically. These skills are essential for one to see things differently from people using common sense, which are very often too superficial and even incorrect. This is how university makes students more competent in the job environment. However, very few can graduate with these skills. Many more have just waste their time in the university. So, if we are not satisfied with personal development after working for some time, pursue university studies. We can see the world differently.

  9. avatar
    Chris

    In the UK it depends if you want your kids to be indoctrinated to a hard left political viewpoint. If so yes, if not save your money

  10. avatar
    Manuel

    absolutly…
    EU invests, so EUA can still have the number of Drs and Scientists they need

  11. avatar
    Ray

    Go figure! Because ignorance is bliss…

  12. avatar
    Hans

    depends on the degree you get.

  13. avatar
    Marie

    Depends. First of all technical , manual and professional education should be valued. No robot will replace a plumber or hairdresser soon. Second some degrees are totally useless. Third it should be coupled with practical trainings. Studying to get everything known by heart and forgotten day after is useless. You need to understand ,what you are studying and how it is applied.

  14. avatar
    Христо

    Expensive education is an American problem. In Europe education is affordable for most people. Now, on your question. There are useless degrees that are not worth studying. Judging someone on his degree or lack of such is absolutely wrong. But for some professions like lawyer, doctor, soldier, architect you definitely need a degree. So my answer is that you can be good in certain professions without going to university but there are other professions for which it’s absolutely necessary to have a degree.

  15. avatar
    Pedro

    Maybe we should stop importing American problems to Europe? We don’t get indebted by studying, not most people at least. And in any case, you should also study just because you want to learn more about something. That’s why universities were created in the first place.

  16. avatar
    Karolis

    Pay to get indoctrinated? No thanks

  17. avatar
    Simona

    Definitely, unless that is, you want a population of unquestioning beings.

  18. avatar
    Vito

    Degrees are very important. Jobs like doctors or engineers building roads and bridges must require a proper education because they have a massive social impact. Europe, once again, is the global leader in university education because the global university ranking, where many US universities are ranked at the top, is entirely based on money. Studying at a stupidily overpriced university is mainly a US problem. We are in Europe. Let’s be proud of who we are and what we have accomplished. The US university system is elitarian while in Europe everyone can access university education because governments would help low income individuals, who study hard and get good grades, with coping with costs

  19. avatar
    Andrie

    Studying is important for qualified, well -rounded professionals. There shouldn’t be a question of choosing to be in debt to get qualifications. It’s unfair and unsustainable. States have a duty of investing in developing and educating new talent. There isn’t a pricetag on such a thing. Education should be affordable to everyone, in other words free and horizontal.

  20. avatar
    Nikola

    Everything has its more or less fair price. When you make the education overpriced and inaccessible for the middle class, you will end with a mass of useless people with a lot of petty desires and not willing to follow rules and fulfill community obligations. Any resemblance to actual events is not the result of chance.

  21. avatar
    Craig

    Yes and no. On the individual level, a university education makes you more marketable, either for skills acquired or simply as proof of a certain degree of self-discipline / intellectual capacity.
    However, as more and more people go to uni, the degrees’ value depreciates (just like currency inflation). These days, many jobs require university degrees for which, in the past, a high school diploma was perfectly adequate.
    Personally, I’d say people are studying too long and getting into debt too much. The practical professional utility (as opposed to simply being a marker of status) of many diplomas is highly questionable. Many young people study for years only to then be forced into sub-minimum wage internships for months and years.
    We need to free young people from this treadmill!

  22. avatar
    Marco

    Nope but it can be a hell of a lot of fun All the drinking and stupid experience you will get is a life lesson.

  23. avatar
    George

    if you have to pay for it, not really. get into trade, if you are good at it

  24. avatar
    Bernard

    may refugees take over the country before november, go mexicans

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