Over a third of students have been left wondering whether it’s worth going to university at all as a result of uncertainties surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
A study of 1,000 college and sixth-form pupils found four in ten young people are changing their higher education plans amid concerns around finances, family and their future in general.
Before lockdown measures were introduced in March, 37% of those had planned to go to university but are now looking at other options, 10% are reconsidering their choice to take a gap year and 10% are rethinking their decision to defer their university application.
The study, carried out by MyUniChoices, found that 28% of the students who have changed their minds put the decision down to feeling uncertain about the economy.
Nearly a fifth would like to change their plans in order to be closer to family and 22% are concerned about their personal finances.
However, three in ten of those asked said they cannot think about their futures when things are so ambiguous, with over half anxious about committing to plans during the current climate.
These findings tie in to previous research carried out by the National Union of Students (NUS) and OneVoiceDigital which found that, of a sample of just under 10,000 current students, 81% were concerned about the effects Covid-19 would have on their employment prospects.
Dr Charles Johnson, chief psychometrics advisor for MyUniChoices, said: “In common with most other people, young people are suffering from a huge degree of uncertainty about the future and this is greatly affecting their immediate plans for what to do after leaving school.
“Those choosing to go to university recognise they are making a choice which will shape their lives for more than just the years that they study, so making the right choice matters.
“It’s vital that when students choose to go away, they do so with confidence that the time they will spend studying will be in a course and an environment which help them grow and thrive
“Whether they plan to go away this year or next, it is only right that students pause, take stock and check that the course they want to do is the one which is right for them.
“Taking a small amount of time to reflect and reassess now is the best way of avoiding making the wrong choice which can be costly from a financial, career and mental health perspective.”
The survey also revealed that 38% of school leavers are worried about how their predicted grades will affect future prospects with 26% saying it’s ‘unfair’ that they won’t get to sit exams.