Too many people are going to university, education charity chief says

9 August 2021, 09:46

Sir Peter Lampl said graduates were coming out of university with a lot of debt they would not pay back.
Sir Peter Lampl said graduates were coming out of university with a lot of debt they would pay back. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Too many young people are going to university, an education charity chief has said ahead of A-Level results day on Tuesday.

Founder and executive chairman of the Sutton Trust, Sir Peter Lampl, raised concerns about debt for students planning to go to university.

He suggested most would be better off doing a degree apprenticeship where "you earn while you learn, you come out with no debt and you come out with skills the marketplace wants".

It comes as tens of thousands of students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will receive their grades on 10 August.

Exams were cancelled for the second year in a row in 2021 due to the pandemic.

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"I think there are too many kids going to university,” Sir Peter Lampl told The Daily Telegraph.

"Too many graduates come out with a lot of debt, the levels of debt are astronomical, and in many cases they come out with skills that the marketplace doesn't want."

He added: "The students aren't going to be able to pay back the debt so that is a big problem. Who is going to pay?

"We are giving them the money, the taxpayer is funding this, and the taxpayer is not going to get paid back."

The education charity chief established the Sutton Trust in 1997 to improve social mobility in the UK. He has given over £50 million to the trust, its website says.

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It comes as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer warned that the "chaos and incompetence" in government had caused extra stress for those awaiting their results.

He said that Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson had failed to act early enough to ensure that results operations run smoothly this summer.

"It frustrates me immensely that this week's big moment in so many young people's lives is being risked by the chaos and incompetence at the top of this Government," the Labour politician said.

The Department for Education said a "rigorous system to ensure grades are fair" has been put in place.