Stay-at home students do worse in life

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The Independent Online
STUDENTS WHO live at home while they do university courses end up with lower-paid jobs than young people who leave to study, say researchers.

Undergraduates from the South-east, Scotland and Wales were most likely to live at home and those from East Angliamost likely to leave to study.

The findings showed young people from affluent backgrounds, who could afford to study at universities farther away, were getting the better paying jobs.

"Wealthier kids are getting the best chances," Rick Audas, research associate at Newcastle University and co-author of the study, said yesterday.

The study, of 13,000 graduates across the country, showed that young people who left home to study at university earn on average pounds 3,000 more and were more likely to have a job with better prospects.

Nearly double the number, 70 per cent, of students who went away to university ended up living in a different area to their parents, compared with 40 per cent of students who stayed at home while they were studying.

Lack of confidence and a limited outlook meant that students who lived at home while they were studying did not have the same opportunities or the desire to move to another area to get the most suitable job once they had graduated.

"People who stay at home tend to be much more inward-looking," Mr Audas said. "They set self-imposed boundaries. The region is their limit.

"Going away to university is a way for individuals to assert independence from their parents and is part of growing up and maturing. When these young people reach 21, they have had experiences which make them much more confident about the labour market. This confidence makes them more employable."

The introduction of university fees last year and the increasing costs for students have meant more young people are being forced to live at home and attend local university. Official figures for this academic year show one in five of the 330,000 students lives at home.

"Students who are less inclined to move after graduating are not seeking out the best- paid and most suitable jobs, which is damaging for the economy," said Mr Audas.

He believes a mobile labour force is fundamental to a healthy economy because the most skilled candidates look for the best positions, leading to increased productivity, lower staff turnover and higher wages.

Richard Gray, 21, lived at home while he took a second-class honours biochemistry degree at the University of Edinburgh, but was unable to find work in his chosen field near home. He did not want to move away from family and friends and so he took a pounds 100-a-week job as a shelf stacker in an Edinburgh supermarket nine months ago. "A supermarket is not my first choice but it is the only place I have been able to get a job here," Mr Gray said. "I am prepared to wait for a chemistry-based job to come up here."

He has been offered degree-related jobs in the south of England, and a pounds 20,000 research post in Manchester. "All my memories are tied up with Edinburgh," he said. "I feel my future lies here too. Money and a prestigious title do not matter to me. Why should I move?"