Education Quandary

'My daughter says it's not worth going to university. She wants to go straight to work. We are shocked'
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The Independent Online

Hilary's advice

And? Let her go to work. If, later on, she decides she needs a degree, she can take one. Far too many young people head unthinkingly from school to university and pass three pointless years studying something they don't particularly like, stacking up scary overdrafts. It may be the accepted middle-class way of becoming an adult, but it isn't the only one.

Researchers from Swansea University say the rate of return on degrees is falling, and today's graduates can't expect to earn much more than £140,000 (on average) more in a lifetime than people who have only A-levels. The picture is worst for arts graduates.

If your daughter decides to go into, say, human resources or accounting, she can train on the job and acquire qualifications as she earns. She'll have no student debt, a lot of experience and a firm foundation of skills. So why should she - and you - worry?

Readers' advice

My stepson took a degree in geography at Leeds University. He spent 18 months looking for a job, living at home and doing temping work. He eventually took a local government job. He's not working in the area he hoped to, his salary is poor, and he has little prospect of getting on the housing ladder. He often wonders what his degree was for.
Sylvie Parsons, Basingstoke

I didn't want to go to university, but thought I ought to. The first day, I knew it wasn't right. I didn't like studying (I wanted to do something practical) or campus life. I left after a term and worked in a shop while I decided what to do. I'm now training as a psychiatric nurse, and it's right for me. Let your daughter make her own mind up.
Juliette Worley, Nottinghamshire

Next quandary

Call me weird, but I think teaching British values could be a good thing. My tutor group has children in it from 11 countries, some only recently arrived. I'm taken aback by how much they don't understand about how they should behave here. But what are the most important things I could teach them?

Send letters or quandaries to Hilary Wilceat 'The Independent', Education Desk, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; or fax to 020-7005 2143; or e-mail to Include details of your postal address. Readers whose letters are printed will receive a Berol Combi Pack