Welcome to Space4Careers

Welcome to Space4Careers, the blog of the Centre for Career & Personal Development at Canterbury Christ Church University. This blog does what it says on the tin, it provides an opportunity for anyone who is interested in all aspects of careers work to find a little bit of space in their busy lives to think about current issues and trends. If you like or dislike, agree or disagree with what you see, please respond and let us have your views. We'd love to hear from you.

Please note, the content of this blog represents the views of the individual blogger, not those of

Canterbury Christ Church University.

View the website for the Centre for Career and Personal Development

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

The answer is ... 23

A few months ago we heard that applications to universities are up this year by 23%. We were told that the biggest proportion of the increase is in applications from mature students. I guess it could be that adults experiencing redundancy and unemployment are thinking "now's my chance to get that degree I've always wanted".

Around that time it was also revealed that 23% of students who start university courses drop out. This came as no surprise to me - as long as three years ago one of my sons used to tell stories of his fellow students dropping out of courses. These were often straight A students who had simply found themselevs on courses that did not turn out to be what they expected. Something that effective career guidance might have prevented. This is shocking when you think of how much a year at university costs these days, particularly if a student lives away from home. Probably approximately £10,000 (fees - £3500, accomodation - £3000, maintenance - £3000).

Neuroscience tells us that on average the human brain is usually fully developed by age 23, with cognitive skills of self evaluation being amongst the latest to develop. So ... if no-one went to university until they were 23, drop out rates could fall. Like that's going to work!
Barbara Bassot


  1. Perhaps the straight A students may be finding the thought of hauling themselves through at least another 3 years of highly academic study unappealing??? And maybe there should be an 'enforced' gap year where students can work, play or study and have time and space to think about their road less travelled! Do some volunteering in an area they think they might like to work in perhaps? Why not link students to local projects that gave valuable work experience - the government would applaud it if it supported 'The Big Society' values also great for the CV. During this time have some careers guidance - I suspect it would be a paid for service.

    Also, recently I have come up against parents who have not been happy with the school service offered and young people who havent got the grades expected and need advice. It is at this point (beyond year 13)between school and uni or school and work where careers advice could be at its most useful and enabling. There will of course always be parental/peer pressure. A friend of mine told me recently that his daughter got several A's at GCSE and he expected her to go into the 6th form. However she has had other ideas - her passion is fashion and she has decided the London Scool of Fashion linked to a business studies further ed course is what she wants to do. He is getting used to the idea (being an academic himself) but is proud that she has the strength to know her own mind and has enough confidence to make plans for herself.

    Perhaps in careers guidance there should be more about confidence building in the areas of decision making and idea development? Also changing your mind is not always a bad thing - we've all done it!

    Elaine Latchford

  2. I agree - with the cost of higher education getting ever higher young people need to have the time, confidence and encouragement to 'step back' and consider if and why they want to go to University. Only when they trully own this decision, rather than it being a 'natural transition', will the drop out rate reduce and students get the most of the HE experience

    Anne Chant