A degree is a sound financial investment. Or is it?

The topic

Comparing a University degree with a financial investment might seem like a limiting perspective at first, as it leaves out some fantastic, non-measurable benefits of higher education, such as social capital, networking, the ability to think critically and to develop informed opinions. The return on such an expensive venture is, however, of vital consideration for parents and children, as a non-quantifiable result that is usually felt instinctively and is difficult to calculate.

Despite soaring fees, the value of a University degree has remained high, as the opportunity cost for being out of the job market for 3 years or more has declined due to the lower earning power of those without a degree. However, this current climate seems to be shifting as apprenticeships are becoming practical, viable alternatives to a costly University education.

Each year at Conference we host a debate on an important issue relevant to higher education. Chaired by the AUA’s Honorary President Professor Ruth Farwell CBE DL ,this year’s debate sees an invited panel of high-profile members from across the sector speaking for and against the following statement:


The Panelists

The panelists were not sharing their personal views, just contributing to an academic discussion.


The debate offered a variety of opinions and highlighted just how complex this particular subject is. Some of you shared your views on social media. We gathered a collection of your thoughts here:

View the debate